Q: I work in healthcare and I’m a manager. And sometimes I need to let people go because of their performance. For some people, it’s not just about poor performance, but actually that their mistakes put some patients at risk. I try to give them enough chances and help them in any way I can, but for some employees, there’s just no option but to let them go.
Knowing their personal situations, I feel very bad about letting them go and also scared because recently in the US there was a FedEx employee, who after getting laid off, went back to the office and killed people.
I just want to ask you how can I do my job and handle laying off employees better?
P: If your role as a manager requires you to fire some people then either you continue working at your job or quit and change jobs.
If you want to continue your job for whatever reasons then you must accept the responsibility that comes with it and be able to deal with it. If your job involves firing employees, obviously there’s always a risk of them being angry at you which sometimes might lead to attacks.
In some ways it is like voluntarily joining the army. During peacetime it is a good job because you don’t have to risk your life, but if there’s a war, you have to put your life at risk. Nevertheless, it’s a choice you’re making and there’s no other way.
If you make the choice to stay on, there may be small things you can do to lower the risk. For instance, instead of firing somebody with harsh words, try to explain this is your role. Say that you understand the person and that although this is not what you want to do but you have to do it because it’s your job. And that you are also an employee at the organization and that you also have to make a living.
Tell them as a person it hurts you to do this, but because you have to fulfill your role you have no choice but to do this and that you are sorry. Then with those words you may decrease your risk a little. Obviously that person will still be fired and still be angry, but it’s better than kicking them out with harsh criticism.
So while understanding other people’s pain and feeling sorry about it, you should still be able to do your job.
No matter what the consequences you face because of your choice you should be able to handle it. It is not a matter of which way is better. It is to realize that with every choice comes responsibility and consequences. And you should be aware of those before you make a choice. It is difficult but if you try to avoid responsibility it becomes a source of suffering. There’s always a result based on a cause. If you provided the cause then you should be able to accept the result.
As long as you are in that position then there is a risk for you to be criticized. And a higher risk for you to be hated. But if you don’t like it, change your job, but if there are the reasons to stay on then be prepared to handle the consequences.