Managers, firing sucks. It does, we do it hoping it is the best end state for the company and the individual. A good manager wants to see someone win, but a good manager also knows when someone isn’t going to win at this time, in this company, that it is time to part ways.
8 years ago I wrote a post about loving the employees who leave, it all still holds true.
I had to share this email I got from someone I had to let go, 9 years ago.
I’m sharing this for every manager who will never get a message like this…most of us don’t. I’ve only gotten 1, in an 18 year career but I bet somewhere there are more of these that just haven’t been written. So keep your head up.
If you’ve ever been let go and in reflection it helped you to be on the path you are on now, consider dropping your own email to that person, it might help make them a better manager.
It took him 9 years to write this…
Subj: Thank you wil
This is an email I’ve written many many times. I’m not sure if you remember me but I worked at SEER, very briefly, around 2012? I think. I don’t even know anymore.
I just wanted to thank you for giving me that opportunity and teaching me the most valuable skills in my professional life.
You ended up firing me, in a frightening upset tone that left me absolutely crushed afterward. It took me almost ten years now to realize that was the best thing you could have ever done for me. SEO was not my passion. Development was. And you encouraged me to build cool shit and explore the unknown when I showed you Fusion Tables (RIP).
I am so very grateful for your time and to have met you. I’ve now worked my way up as a full stack developer working on [redacted]. And because of you , I ALWAYS keep detailed meeting notes and send them afterward. Every part of me hates it but I couldn’t ever stop.
So, in all sincerity, thank you Wil.
(Sorry I know you hate long emails)
This email is touching for so many reasons. I’m busy so I’m going to rip these quick and hit publish.
- It took him 9 years and many re-writes to send this, this was a great reminder that letting people go from your company can have LONG term effects on how people feel about themselves. Reaching back out can be scary / difficult.
- Getting to work in your company for some people is validation that they are good / good enough. The opposite is true for some people you have to let go, it’s even more devastating when it doesn’t work. I got this from someone we let got 2–3 years ago, it was a new perspective to me.
- Firings sometimes are just what people needed to do that soul searching and deep questioning, but we rarely hear that feedback, which for this person helped them to see that he is a super high performer when in a different role altogether (he’s working on satellite technology).
- Firings sometimes “nudge people” in a direction that they know is right but were unwilling to do. The better you get at those nudges, the sooner someone can go find where they can be successful, you owe it to them.