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Entrepreneurs fire nice people nicely

  • By Alan Knott-Craig
  • June 26, 2016

Psycho (1960) Directed by Alfred Hitchcock Shown: Janet Leigh (as Marion Crane)


Its easy getting rid of assholes. Not so easy firing nice people.


But sometimes a nice person has to go, and the only question is “How?”


Rule number one is: Show respect.


Most of the time, strict adherence to the law is the wrong way. The law incentivizes the employer to “manage” the person out of the business with formal  warnings and subtle hints, humiliating him in front of colleagues and destroying trust in management.


Don’t make it any more embarrassing than it has to be. Everyone has self-dignity. There are always two sides to a story.


The employer is normally equally to blame for things not working out.


But you gotta do what you gotta do, so when you’ve realized he’s not the right guy, call a meeting and have an honest “Dear John” conversation.


One of three things will happen:


  1. John will accept that an unhappy marriage is bad for everyone, and agree to part ways. No hard feelings. The employer and John will reach terms and it will be the happiest possible ending to an unhappy situation.
  2. John will go psycho. Maybe John is psycho. Maybe that’s why you’re firing him. Pay him to go away. Stick to the law, otherwise he’ll take you to court. Never hire psychos.
  3. John will accept the decision, but refuse to believe it. He’ll think its a practical joke, even once he’s been paid a severance, left the company and he’s now unemployed with two young children and a mortgage. John will then try take you to court.


The third scenario is the worst scenario. Why? Because it’s the scenario that drags out the pain.


Because he’s in state of denial, John doesn’t chase a new job fast enough. Before he knows it he doesn’t have cash for school fees and his mortgage.


John starts to panic. Cash-poor parents become desperate. That kind of stress changes people’s brains and they do things that they would never normally do.


The only way to help John is to not judge him. Don’t turn your back on him. If you were in his shoes, you would do the same thing. John is a fundamentally nice human being, and when he’s through the crisis he’ll revert to the original John.


But, until the crisis has passed, John will be a psycho. And psychos are best left alone.