Supervisory Leadership

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How do you fire someone in a way that is firm, yet sensitive?

The key to all of this is proper preparation and supervisory leadership communication. One of the rules I give to my trainees and clients is that there should be no surprises at the time of the regular performance appraisal. That goes double for firing.

If you're firing for cause, the groundwork should be laid. There should be notice that you're monitoring the subordinate's behavior. There should be frequent discussions of performance with discussion and delivery of sanctions. In other words, the firing should be the result of a process that is fair, thorough and transparent.

At the actual firing you need to recap the process, the opportunities offered for improvement and the results. That's the best you can d0. You can't control the other person's behavior, only your own.

Most folks will understand that, but some will not. I've fired folks who've cried. I fired one young man who simply came back the next day as if nothing had happened. I've had folks go off and threaten. I've had folks slink out the door as if they'd been whipped.

But those are the exceptions. If you do the supervision part of the job right, you've done the best you can and folks understand that.


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