Firing Employees – Listen to Your Gut

By Carol Campbell
Published on: February 8, 2019

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Firing an employee is either the hardest thing a manager can do, or the easiest. In both instances, your gut knows instinctively what to do way before your rational brain catches up. Let me break down both scenarios.

One, if you’re an egomaniac or feel threatened by an underling’s performance (like when they bring in some new guy and say, ‘he’s great’ – only for the top performers to see through the smoke and mirrors and start calling him on his b.s.). Well, these b.s. artists, in their gut, know they have to fire anyone competent who can challenge their authority. And always – ALWAYS – this ends poorly for the company.

Now, for everyone else, those ethical and hardworking managers, firing people is an agonizing process. But, again, I would proffer that your gut is way ahead of your head when it comes to dealing with these difficult decisions. What to do?

First things first, check with and inform HR that you might have issues with the employee in question. Make sure you begin to document the situation. In the majority of cases, what your gut is telling you is that the employee hasn’t done anything egregious or hasn’t violated company policy and isn’t doing a horrendous job. They’re just not excelling. They’re not moving the ball forward.

Second, take a look at your own performance as a manager. Have you properly trained the employee and given them the tools they need to succeed? Do you have them positioned properly in your workforce? Are you even paying attention to them and mentoring them as you would others? Take a good look at yourself – these are hard questions you might not want to look at.

Next, talk to the employee and calmly let them know where you think they can improve their performance. Get feedback from them on how you are managing them – maybe they don’t feel they’ve been trained enough or maybe they are not quite sure what all of their responsibilities are.

Now we come to the gut part. The gut reaction that got you into this mess to begin with! Here’s what I always ask myself – if I had the same position open, would I hire that person? Does ‘just doing my job’ cut it or do you want your team to excel? Is this person holding others back? Because if you’ve had a gut reaction that something might not be right, your other employees had that same reaction weeks and weeks earlier!

If, in fact, you come to the realization that things just aren’t working out and the fit really isn’t right, don’t procrastinate – do the deed. Better for you, better for the employee in the long run. Sometimes, you just have to go with your gut feeling.


Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell

Carol Campbell is the Managing Director of the Technology Insider Group, Publisher of Technology Designer Magazine, and Executive Director of the Women in Consumer Technology association. She is a publishing, marketing and women’s thought leadership executive with a history of offering outstanding presentation, communication and cross-cultural team management skills.

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