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.