Wednesday, August 22, 2012

How to Fire an Employee

So it happened.  I finally got fired.  I've been alive for 35 years, have had over a dozen different jobs, and I finally know what it's like to hear those words "You're fired."  And I've had all day to think about it, too, because I got fired from a midnight baker's job.  Yep, got the news at 3:45am.

First of all, I deserved it.  I'm not complaining about my sentence.  My former boss was a good guy.  I just wasn't up to the task of waking my ass up at 12:30am to get to work by 1am.  Justice has been served.

Maybe there's just no way to make this easy.  Maybe it shouldn't be easy.  I've had all day to think about this, so allow me a moment to share with you some of my revelations.

First, I looked at the syntax.  "You're fired" is a passive statement.  Technically speaking, the whole phrase is "You're fired by me."  So if this is passive, then why the hell does it feel so active?  As a boss, I can't imagine getting all revved up and saying "I fire you!"  That just doesn't work for some reason.  As for the present progressive "I'm firing you," that just doesn't make any sense unless the employee in question seriously does not know his ass from his elbow.  I mean, it happens.

So then I looked at corporate culture.  They hire an outside consultant to do the dirty work of appraising employees and firing them.  Not that this has happened to me, but I've seen Office Space.  This seems worse than being told to your face.

 I suppose there are some creative ways to do it.  My boss back in college told me the following story: "So I met this old-time business owner.  He told me that the way you fire someone is to give them a hefty raise for two weeks.  At the end of the two weeks, you send them packing.  After that, they'll never get a job asking for the wages they had at the moment you fired them."  Pretty wicked old man.

So in short, while an employer can get creative, I think the best way remains to fire someone to his face using the passive voice (which sounds active).  It's tense for a few moments, but then it's over.  The way I see it, my former boss did both of us a really big favor sticking to what's tried and true.

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