Last week there was a lot of coverage about Mitt Romney’s remarks on being able to terminate those who provide services to him.  In viewing his remarks, I think the criticism of his comments comes, not so much from what he said, but how he said it.  In a somewhat cavalier manner, Romney said he liked have the option to be able fire people; not that he liked firing them.   Here is the context of what he had to say:

Romney’s remarks have been construed to mean that he likes firing people; something I don’t think he said or meant.  However, I’ve written before on the dynamics of terminating the employment relationship with employees.  Studies have shown that losing a job can be one of the most stressful life events one can experience –akin to the loss of a family member or divorce.  And while terminating the employment of an employee is not normally easy, it is an inevitable part of most manager, supervisor and human resource professional’s job.  

Terminating the employment relationship with an employee is a serious matter and should be treated as such.  When communicating the decision, an employer should be guided by being as compassionate as is possible under the circumstances.  That doesn’t mean that the decision is debated with the employee.  Rather, it goes more into delivering the planning of the announcement. Plan to communicate the decision in a way that will minimize the trauma to the employee to the extent possible.  Take steps to ensure that the employee is not unduly embarrassed by the decision.  It is good to remember that we are all human before communicating an employment termination decision, particularly where there is not egregious.  We all have families to support and the decisions made by employers, and the employees who call upon employers to make those decisions, have consequences.  Communicate adverse employment actions to employees accordingly.  And never, never (whether you are running for President or not) tell anyone you like firing people.

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