Hire or not to hire: why we all dread firing someone

While most of us enjoy hiring and dread firing someone, we often don’t realize that both actions have more in common than they differ.

When we hire someone into our organizations we are, at the same time, precluding that individual from developing a career elsewhere. Indeed we may be tempting that individual from quitting their present job to take a position with us. That is a very serious responsibility with repercussions beyond the apparently simple act of ‘giving someone a job’.

But what if things went not as we were expecting, and we can no more ignore the obvious fact, that that same person we were putting so many hopes in, has to be dismissed? Both actions, hiring and dismissing, are decisions that require skills, knowledge of the individual and it’s circumstances, and care.

Skills are needed to evaluate and appreciate the individual’s character, potential, attitude, fitness for the position, ability and desire to advance, take on risks and learn. We need to know the individual’s skills and performance. And, of course, we can’t be indifferent.

It may come as a surprise that the above actually do apply equally to the decision to hire or to let someone go. They both carry the weight of responsibility as they affect someone’s (and someone’s family) life in one of their core values: their income, careers, the ‘other’ place they call ‘home’, lifestyles, even the place they live, schools for the kids, friends, place of worship, etc. especially when moving to another city.

Both actions change lives and to some degree, the organization they join or leave. Hiring and firing have consequences that go way beyond financial considerations.

It’s perfectly normal to think twice, three times, have doubts and feel the rejection to the firing. The same often happens while deciding on hiring as well. We’re all human, and it only means we care, both about the people and the company.