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I have had to do it twice, once in the private sector, once in the public sector.

My work career before becoming a teacher was in data processing, where at various times I was a programmer, programmer analyst, systems analyst, consultant, supervisor, and manager.

The first time I had to fire an employee was while a manager at a private company then the world's largest vendor of project management software.  The employee actually had been at the company longer than I had been.  There had been personal hygiene issues that we had had to address, but that was not the cause.  The quality of his work began spiraling downward, he began missing deadlines.  He had personal issues outside of work, but he refused the company's willingness to provide him with some support.  In a small company we could not afford to carry him.  I gave him a choice of getting some help with his problems, even possibly taking a leave of absence for up to one month.  He refused all assistance, so reluctantly we discharged him.

The second time was while I was a supervisor in local government.   The young man in question was still a probationary employee, and up until his first anniversary still could be discharged without having to make a fully documented case.  Nevertheless, I went through all the steps that would have been required had he been a long-time employee, to ensure his rights were fully protected.  In his case he also refused counseling about improper behavior, particularly towards female co-workers.   He was given an opportunity to appeal his discharge outside out department, but declined.

In each case I was aware that the person I was discharging going to face financial difficulty.  In each case I had to balance that concern with my responsibility to my employer and to the other employees in my charge.  I did not enjoy either occasion.  Unlike Mitt Romney, I don't like being able to fire other people.

Which I why if I look back at that part of my career, I would much rather talk about the troubled employees I was able to help turn around their performance and save their jobs.

What it feels like to fire people?    For me, very painful even if necessary

I also note this - that I had to fire the two young men is evidence of a failure on my part to find a way to turn around their behavior so firing became unnecessary.

For someone whom it isn't?  He may love his family but I have to worry about his real concern for other people.  And lacking that concern, do I want him in charge of national policy in a way that could harm other people?

I think you know the answer to that question.


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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

    by teacherken on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 03:02:12 AM PST

  •  I've only had to do it twice. (13+ / 0-)

    Once when working for someone else, once when running my own business.

    The first time I was told to fire the person who had the lowest sales performance.  Easy to choose who it was, the facts did not lie.

    Still it was humiliating for her and agonizing for me.  I absolutely hated to do it, even though I had, as her supervisor, done my best to train her in methods to up her sales.

    The second time, it was a long time employee of mine who told me he was taking a second two week vacation at the last minute.

    Even though it was a no-brainer, I did give him a warning that if he did go, it could be a deal breaker.

    When he got back from his trip I told him he no longer had a job as of that moment.

    It was too bad, but I didn't want any computer vandalism or the like.

    I truly liked the guy.  I hated to do it.

    Both times it was agony.

    Mitt Romney is a cold-hearted snake.

  •  Vanity Fair latest issue (9+ / 0-)

    has a long article on Romney and goes into detail about his involvement with Bain.  Romney apparently never bothered learning the first or last names of his subservient co-workers and his conduct was based on a totally business as usual relationship.  Of course, he probably never knew or cared to know the names of the people who lost their jobs in the Bain take overs, so he never had to deal with the displeasure of firing people.  They were just numbers to him.  The article states that his only friendships were within the Mormon community, and that he kept a frosty distance from those outside the community.

  •  Where I work (7+ / 0-)

    It's considered a failure of management when someone is released.

    We had a string of upper level (VP & managers) employees terminated. It was disruptive and the vacuum created resulted in an entire department stealing an extra week vacation because they had two managers in two months and no one knew who had already taken vacation.

    Just a quick example of how costly it is terminate someone.

    It should cost you sleep.

    It should cost you litigation exposure.

    One lower level employee showed up at HQ and was met by the police. He had two firearms in the truck. Of course, he "hadn't planned to use them."

    It is not a decision to be made casually.

    Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed. Herman Melville US novelist & sailor (1819 - 1891)

    by Patriot4peace on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 03:54:09 AM PST

  •  I have a different usual... (9+ / 0-)

    I have worked in places where employers bend over backwards to keep on marginal employees.  I'm not talking about those who have personal issues, but rather those who seem to put a great deal of effort into doing nothing, or even sabotaging the work of others.  They come in late without apology.  They stay home for a case of sniffles.  Their idea of teamwork is bringing in donuts once a week.

    Its very damaging to morale, as those who are doing their work satisfactorily or even in an exemplary manner feel a great deal of injustice.

    I had a discussion with my last supervisor about this.  She had the same opinion as you.  I reminded her that there are people out there who want to work and who are being denied the opportunity  to do so, because someone who doesn't want to work is sitting in their spot.

    Just another perspective...anyway.  Thanks for your writing, Tk.

  •  Ive done it 3 times (6+ / 0-)

    Sometimes people just don't do their job, you have to fire them. I was a Building contractor at the time and that means my profit---what I supported my family on---was what was left after everybody else got theirs so a non productive worker in a small company means a lot on the bottom line.

    I have ZERO tolerance for drugs or booze on the job. I always told evryone, if I think youre drunk or stoned youre fired, no 2d chances, no warnings. I hire people to do theuir best while I'm paying them and getting buzzed is not part of that.
    That accounted for 2 of them. The other failed to show up one morning while we were pouring concrete and I fired him on the spot the next time   I saw him.

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 04:48:48 AM PST

  •  he was actually (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AnnieR, crystal eyes, ramara, Paver

    referring to "firing" an (hypothetical) insurance company for poor service and choosing another.

    But you are right, firing actual people, no matter the justification and correctness of the action, is a decidedly difficult and sad thing to have to do.  

    •  most people would not frame it that way (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crystal eyes, ramara, greengemini

      because they do not see themselves as having the power of hiring / firing

      and in many if not most cases, individual employee has little/no choice among insurance companies

      now, the manager might be able to change which insurance firm is used for the company, provided you are in an area which has real competition, but for much of the nation there is next to no choice in health insurance companies

      "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

      by teacherken on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 05:20:17 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think most people would (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Maybe you didn't see the whole quote:

        ""I want individuals to have their own insurance," Romney said. "That means the insurance company will have an incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them. I like being able to fire people who provide services to me. You know, if someone doesn’t give me a good service that I need, I want to say I’m going to go get someone else to provide that service to me.""

        Pretty clear to me.

        •  no they wouldn't (0+ / 0-)

          I am quite aware of the entire quote

          most people do not talk about firing corporations or employers

          they think of firing only as that of a person who is one's subordinate in a work situation

          they might "change" insurance companies or doctors or lawyers

          "what the best and wisest parent wants for his child is what we should want for all the children of the community" - John Dewey

          by teacherken on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 08:29:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I think there is a real difference (9+ / 0-)

    between firing someone for cause and the type of firing done by the Bain Corp.  Bain didn't fire for cause-they didn't fire someone for not doing their job.  They fired people to shut down a company, gut it and walk away with the profits.  In the corporate world most people aren't fired for cause these days. They are 'downsized'. A big difference from what is described in the comments above.  My husband worked for a large corporation that downsized several times.  Unfortunately my husband was the one who had to break the news to the people who were losing their jobs.  Of course during these times the CEO and upper level management were still being paid huge salaries and bonuses.  It made my husband sick- and he finally did the right thing by leaving that company to work for a much smaller place that actually valued their employees.  Just don't get caught up in firing someone for cause and a corporation downsizing to keep the upper crust flush in money.  It's a big difference

    Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can. - Ashleigh Brilliant

    by dmac on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 05:06:49 AM PST

    •  Romney the eviscerator. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dmac, ramara

      People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

      by hannah on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 06:14:34 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just remember (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ramara, Lensy

        taxes and income inequality should only be talked about in a 'quiet room'. Not in a public forum that could incite the masses. The gospel according to Mittens...

        Not being able to do everything is no excuse for not doing everything you can. - Ashleigh Brilliant

        by dmac on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 06:20:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Indeed, until recently, money was the (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          DamselleFly, dmac

          last taboo.  Keeping money secret made it possible to deprive people of their rights without them hardly noticing.  Money is like that curtain behind which the wizards (willard) of Wall Street perform their magic act.  One of the most significant achievements of OWS was pulling that curtain back and exposing the petty gnomes.

          Willard's billions are worthless.  He can't eat them; he can't wear them and even burning them won't produce much heat.  The only question is how many people can be persuaded to serve a person who doesn't want to pay.

          People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

          by hannah on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 06:38:20 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I had to fire someone once. It was awful. (7+ / 0-)

    She was the docket clerk for our lawfirm, and was unable to grasp the basic duties of her job.  Her responsibility was to put out a list of court cases each day, including times, judges, etc.  This was back in the day when this information was recorded by hand.  At the end of each day the attorneys would bring her their sheets with new dates for the cases that were continued, and she was to transfer them to books containing pages for each day of the week.  There were 12 books representing each month.  She was simply putting those sheets in a desk drawer, not making the transfers.  It didn't take long before these guys were missing cases, and for us to discover what she had been doing.  She told me when I let her go that god was going to punish me.  The whole thing was very sad.  She couldn't even grasp what she had done wrong.  Very sad.

    "They love the founding fathers so much they will destroy everything they created and remake it in Rush Limbaughs image." MinistryofTruth, 9/29/11

    by AnnieR on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 05:16:20 AM PST

  •  The Republican anti-union push (6+ / 0-)

    is to be able to fire at will.

    An intimidated work force will work for longer hours at lower wages.  

    Romney wants to establish a feudal relationship with workers there all the power belongs with the employer.
    That is the decoding of saying  "I like to fire people" as an applause line.  

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Jan 12, 2012 at 05:49:09 AM PST

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