Career Calling

January 10, 2012

Firing People

Filed under: Commentary — claycerny @ 4:26 am
Tags: , , , ,

Presidential candidate Mitt Romney said today that he likes to fire people who provide bad service.  His opponents jumped on this poor choice of words and linked it to Romney’s past as a venture capitalist for a company that often “reduced headcount” at firms it purchased.

Earlier in my career I was a manager.  Firing an employee was a task I hated, even when I disliked the employee and had heavy documentation to justify my action.  When I had to let an employee go, it meant that I had failed in hiring, training, and managing that person.  Somewhere along the line, I shared the responsibility of the person being terminated.  One of the main reasons I hope I never have to manage again is that I never want to fire another human being.

One of the clients I met today was fired and replaced by a relative of his boss.  He understood the “game,” but the dismissal still hurt.  He put in extra time to complete a special project only to be told:  “Thank you.  There’s the door.”  Many American workers over the last 35 years have heard that line.  They build profitable companies only to see executives pursue even greater profits in low wage countries. 

Mitt Romney’s choice of words was telling.  He didn’t say, “I like to change companies or vendors when I get bad service.”  He used the word fired.  For many Americans, that word brings anger and tears, bad memories of an economy that puts profits over people and cheers for “job creators” who don’t seem to create any jobs.  I liked hiring people because that was a hopeful activity.  We need more hiring – more hope.

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