Opinion: Terminating an employee

I was reading an article called "How to Fire an Employee" in the IT Management section of Tech Republic today.  (You can see the article at http://techrepublic.com.com/5100-10878_11-5032613.html?tag=nl.e106).  Of course, there are lots of ways to fire an employee - some good and some not-so-good.  But the author (Andy Weeks) was trying to give you as many best practices regarding firing employees as he could.

Terminating employment is never fun.  Perhaps that's why so many more books are written about recruiting and retaining quality employees than there are about firing low quality employees?  But there are definitely good ways and bad ways to do it.

One of the most striking things I recall when I worked at a Big 4 accounting and consulting company was the way they tried so hard to make employee turnover as positive as possible.  It makes perfect sense when you think about it.  If you lose or let go of an employee, chances are that they will go to work in some highly placed job like Comptroller, Internal Auditor, or even CFO.  And people in those positions are often the ones who hire outside consultants, accountants and auditors for the company they go to work for.  So, assuming you left the Big 4 accounting firm under pretty good circumstances, then you're much more likely to hire that company for consulting gigs at your new employer.  Makes good business sense, doesn't it?

If, on the other hand, someone is let go harshly or unjustly, then the former employer should expect eternal spite from the former employee.  That's just the way the world works.  I recall one of my great uncles who left the employ of a big American car company under bad circumstances way back in the 1970's.  He never did own that brand of car again, nor did his wife, kids, or grandkids to this very day.  Wow!  There were certainly long-term repercussions from the way that dismissal was handled.

So what do you think?  Have you been through a dismally bad dismissal?  Have you had to terminate an employee where things worked well?  Why did the go smoothly?

Do Americans just identify their personal identity too much with their jobs?  Should we just loosen up and "work to live" rather than "living to work"?

Looking forward to your feedback!


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