What’s one of the hardest tasks in business today?  It’s not starting a business.  It’s not raising money.  It’s not even making a profit.  According to The Wall Street Journal, it’s firing an employee.

If someone doesn’t fit into an organization, they hurt both themselves and the organization.  If you put on a shoe that didn’t fit, would you still wear it?  Obviously the answer is no, but when people don’t fit into an organization, it’s often easier to pretend the problem doesn’t exist.

However, pretending won’t make the problem go away.  You either deal with the problem now or you wait for the problem to get worse much later.  Which do you think is the smarter solution?

The best way to avoid firing someone is to hire the right person in the first place.  From the beginning, work and coach each new employee so you and that person know how they can reach their goals, dreams, hopes and vision by working at your company.

When people understand how they can benefit by helping the company benefit, everyone wins.  Unfortunately, sometimes we do hire the wrong person and sometimes the right person changes goals so they no longer fit in the company.

HarveyFiringFiring may seem like an extreme action – and it can be.  If an employee is chronically late, does sloppy work, is dishonest, refuses to be a team player, or demonstrates general contempt or disregard for the job or company, it’s time to cut ties.

Sometimes, however, the person just doesn’t work out.  And despite efforts to remedy the situation, firing becomes the best option.

But firing should always create a better situation for both parties.

First, look to see if there is a position that would be a better fit within the current organization.  If that’s not possible, then help that person find a position elsewhere.  The goal is to satisfy and improve both your company and the fired employee.  When you can make the fired employee see greater opportunities, you’ll realize that firing doesn’t have to be painful for anyone.

In fact, firing can be the best thing you can do for your organization and for your employees.  Think of firing as a way for everyone to move on to a better future.  And who doesn’t want a brighter future for themselves?

James Whitaker, the first American to reach the summit of Mount Everest, said:  “You don’t really conquer such a mountain.  You conquer yourself.”

Whitaker was a relentless trainer.  He tried to anticipate every challenge, emotional and physical.  Obstacles came at him right and left:  avalanches, dehydration, hypothermia, oxygen shortage at 29,000 feet and the fatigue it caused.  “You overcome the sickness and everything else – your pain, aches, fears – to reach the summit.”

To reach your destination, achievers like Whitaker focus on the road rather than the bumps in it:

  • Lost the job of a lifetime?  Were you right for it in the first place?  How much time would you have wasted trying to make something work that should never have been?
  • Failed in a flash?  Experts say that the entrepreneurs who suffer most and who achieve the least are the ones whose businesses die slow deaths.  Better to get it over with in a hurry and move on than to agonize for years trying to squeeze life out of a weak idea.
  • Been beaten up?  The first golf balls were smooth.  An avid-but-broke golfer couldn’t afford new ones.  He picked up nicked balls he found littered on the course.  The funny thing was he kept beating his well-heeled friends with their shiny new balls.  Today’s golf balls have 432 dimples.  These ‘rough spots’ enhance the ball’s distance and accuracy.  The rough spots in your life sharpen your performance.
  • Stewing in your worries?  Did you know that the English word ‘worry’ originates from an Anglo-Saxon term meaning to ‘strangle or choke?’  It’s not adversity that cripples us:  It’s worrying about what could happen.  A day of worry is more exhausting than a day of work.  Back in 1948, Dale Carnegie titled one of his classics:  How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.  As a kid, this masterpiece had as much influence on me as any book I have ever read.
  • Short on know-how?  The person who knows “how” will always have a job.  Lesson two:  The person who knows “why” will always be the boss.


Mackay’s Moral:  Some people rebound from a firing setback because they are destined to.  Most people rebound because they are determined to.

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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