Surprise! You’re fired!

If you’ve ever fired someone, I’m sure you can agree it’s not at top the list of your list. So, here’s some hard truth for team leaders out there. If you’re counseling or writing someone up who is truly surprised (and not just acting surprised!), you’ve failed them as a manager. They may have fallen short in some way or broken a rule, but they should never be surprised when they are fired. As managers we should have:

· Made the expectations clear,

· Ensured the person understood the expectations, and

· Let them know what would happen if we had this issue again.

The firing would never have happened if these conversations were held first. Remember to take the time to talk to your team. Find out what’s going on (or not going on). See what their issues are.

I once had a team member with an issue with tardiness. Once we started talking about it, he opened up about problems getting his kids to school on time. We moved his schedule to something that worked better for both of us, and he was a great part of them team for years to come.

Remember, counseling is a tool – nothing more and nothing less. Used correctly it can help keep each team member headed in the right direction, and used poorly it can demoralize and undermine the team.

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