What is the best way to get over the feeling of guilt when firing an employee whose conduct has been unbecoming but towards whom you feel pity?
Last Updated: 07/11/2017 at 6:29am
Brenda Munroe, LCSW
Clinical Social Work/Therapist
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), I have worked with individuals of all ages. My work with clients is supportive, interactive and nonjudgmental.
Top Rated Answers
Unfortunately when you become friendly with colleagues, it becomes difficult to execute a professional action, but you have to talk to the employee about their conduct but also let them know that you are there to talk to and not to be afraid of them.
Do your best to rationalize your decision to yourself, first and foremost. What about this employee's conduct was unbecoming in the workplace? What would the consequences be of letting this employee continue to misbehave at work? What sort of impact would the disruption have on you, the other employees, the workflow as a whole, or the customers? Consider reaching out to other coworkers, and getting their feedback as well. Perhaps even the person you had to fire can be persuaded of their error, and admit fault. That doesn't mean that you should hire them back, only that you may benefit from the closure.
Letting someone go is understandably difficult. It's the work version of breaking up. Like a relationship gone wrong, it's important to accept that sometimes people aren't the right fit. Ultimately, you know it was good for your employer but it's also going to be better for that employee to find a place where their strengths would be better suited. It's a hard lesson, but it must be learned.
I think you could acknowledge your feelings about him first. He is a human being, and you feel sorry for him. However, you also need to think about your company, and that´s valid too. Why wouldn´t you? You could address this issue with him in a calm, understanding and firm manner. You don´t need to feel overly sorry or responsible for him/her , he/she can likely take care of herself/himself. However, know that the feeling of guilt is a very common feeling when we do what´s best for us but not for another, sometimes you just have limited options, but your emotions may still be there. Let them be there.
You simply have to keep in mind that you're not responsible for whatever choices they made in the workplace and/or their lives. They're grown people, and can make their own decisions.
Maybe you could write a good recommendation letter for his next employee, or try to find him another workplace
Know that you've done your part. People are given an opportunity, it is now their responsibility as to what they do with that. You've given the opportunity and now you need to think of what is best for your business. Write a good reference letter and apologise. If you are still feeling pity consider re-hiring them but this time round put them through a training period and then make your decision after that
You have to separate the emotions of being a professional and being a person. Professionally you have done the right thing for the better of your company and do not feel bad for doing that. As a person you will feel for that person but u just have to remind yourself that you did it for the right reason.
This is the hardest part about being a manager. Just remember that letting go of an employee is beneficial for him or her too. If they are not a good fit for your company, letting them go allows them to search for a job that they are better suited for. Finding this job will make them happier in the long run. I always tell associates that I let go what they did well on and what they should work on improving. That way, when they do find another job they are set up for success.
If you take action correctly, you have given warnings and second chances when you could. The final act of firing someone is when there is no path forward for them and the organization. That individual will hopefully learn from the experience and move on to a job where they don't make the same mistakes or are a better fit. If in doubt work with your HR or personnel department to determine the best thing for the organization and the employee.
Understand that there is not place for pity in the workplace, and if you continue to condone such behavior it only encourages the person and sends a negative message to everyone else in the workplace. If you really feel guilty you could help the person find another job, but that wouldn't be ideal.
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