DAILY POST CHALLENGE

FIRE, FIRE, WHO IS ABOUT TO GET FIRED?  ARE YOU THE FIRER OR THE FIREE?  Today’s Daily Post Challenge asks if you ever fired anyone and how you did the dastardly deed?  I have been fired and fired. So I will talk about both sides of the firing experienced. Being fired made me a better firee.

When I first returned to work after being a stay-at-home Mom for fourteen years, I was hired to direct a group home for teen-aged girls. The word experimental wasn’t used, but it was the first group home contract of its kind let out by the City of New York’s child welfare agency.  Six agencies were tapped to be the contractees.

My only concern about taking the job was that I have some control over ousting a child whose disruptive behavior was threatening the others in the home. I at least wanted to be able to have her go to a another home or setting to .  As a foster parent, I knew that one youngster could turn a well running home on its rear.  I was promised that would be included in our contract.  It was not.

Our only recourse to ousting a youngster was getting them convicted of a major crime so they would go to detention, or admitted to a psychiatric setting.  Turns out this was the strategy of the powers that be in the Child Welfare Administration. Once convicted of a crime or of needing  psychiatric hospitalization the money involved no longer came from the Child Welfare.  This is why some far thinking people have brokered for a one payment system.  Hasn’t happened in in the 3o years I have worked in the field.

I  let this boss know I had major concerns about whether without some decision over the girls placed in the home it would succeed. I said “I would let him know if I thought I could not do the job in time for him to find a replacement, but I would not stay in a job I thought impossible.

Two years later I gave up and told him I was give him written notice the next day.  Foolish woman, I didn’t give it to him in writing and next morning there was a pink slip on my desk.  Not only did he fire me, he told the funding agency that I was why the home wasn’t successfully.  Not nice.  Not a nice man at all.  I should have been tipped off by the fact he wasn’t married, couldn’t keep a steady girlfriend, and couldn’t pass a window or mirror without admiring himself.  As I said, foolish woman.

I went on to a much better job and stayed there for  15 years before retiring.  The big boss at that job  once wanted me fired,  but fired the woman he told to fire me.  She– foolish woman–decided he was unethical—probably somewhat true—he played favorites and particularly liked “mentoring” young attractive women.  Anyway, that foolish woman went to the agency’s board and tried to get him fired on his word against hers.  He had worked there for at least ten years and was a money maker for the agency.   She had yet to complete on probation and he didn’t need an excuse to fire her.  She asked me for support which I didn’t give; Mr. Boss stopped seeing me as a problem. I would have supported her, if she hadn’t been trouble on her own.  I don’t support loose cannons.

As Mr. Boss said a few years later, “You do know how to manage up, Katherine.”

Not easy, and actually he taught me at least one strategy.  Find what you can agree with, be  silent if you can’t agree.  I add to that checking frequently with your honor code, so you don’t collude with a boss or organization’s bad behavior.  Not easy, but vital. You do have to live with yourself.

On to firing someone.  Shortly after my one-time supervisor tried to get our big boss fired, the agency hauled us all to a training about how to fire someone.  Loved it, one of several good trainings.  The main message was structure things so the employee fires themselves.  Have clear rules, clear consequences, clear steps and written memos that say to the employee  “Shape up or you will be shipping out.”

Worked in all situations where I had to do the dastardly deed except two.  That was a  young worker, I loved dearly as a person, but after a year of being an excellent employee, he stopped showing up on time or at all. I worked hard to get him to fire himself; didn’t work.  I almost cried when I gave him the last word.  He grinned.  So it went. Not sure what was on his mind, maybe he didn’t trust me when I said he could collect unemployment.

The firing situation that made me angriest was when I discovered a long-term employee was stealing.  Not only was he stealing, he was stealing from families, not the agency.  To me that was the worse. Bad enough to steal from the agency, but from needy families.

One of the things that could get you fired without memos or building up to it was stealing.  I did have to have the big boss’s approval.  He didn’t give it easily.  Here was the scenario.

My program had discretionary funds that let us buy needed furniture for families.  I  was doing a periodic spot check on reimbursements  and called a phone number on a receipt the employee had filed claiming to have bought new furniture for a family.  No such phone number existed.  I talked to the mother and she told me, she and the employee had picked out the furniture she wanted at a second-hand store.

So it was clear to me, he falsified  the  receipt and pocketed $300.  I told my boss what I had found and that I planned to fire the employee.  My boss said he was sure the employee had been lead astray by another female employee.  Guess that was how that boss explained his favoritism. He didn’t want me to do anything but watch him.

I insisted we confer with Human Resources and they insisted we put the employee on leave with pay, so Human Resources could investigate.  Three months later I was allowed to fire him.  He didn’t come in for the firing interview.  Mr. boss kept insisting it had been a momentary lapse under the influence  of a woman.  Jeeesh.  Not.

The investigation uncovered several other incidences. Several staff told me they knew he had stolen, but didn’t want to be the bad guy.  Jeesh again.

So firing is no easy process and most bosses don’t handle it well  sometimes for all the wrong reasons and sometimes just from trying too hard.   T

As the challenge asks, “Have you fired someone, and as I ask have you been fired?  Tell me your story,

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