Fired or Fired Up?
Joe Biden got it exactly right last night during his speech (Click) at the DNC when he said Trump is most famous for telling people they are fired and looking like he is enjoying it.
That comment really spoke to me.
I have fired people. I don’t remember exactly how many, not a lot, maybe 5 or 6 when I was a manager in the federal service, and a couple of times as a minister. It is never easy and it certainly isn’t fun. Sometimes it has to be done, however. With only two exceptions, the people I fired had problems getting to work on time on a reasonably consistent basis. After repeated warnings, it became clear that the very basic job requirement of showing up, was not going to be met. The mission was suffering because their job was not being done. So I fired them, but I also felt bad for them. I hoped they would learn a lesson from the experience and do better in their next job. The other two were individuals that just weren’t suited for the jobs they were in. They weren’t able to meet the minimum job requirements at a satisfactory level. I could only hope they went on to find something else they could do well.
Each and every time, however, firing someone has been hard and has made me sad. Those individuals had inherent worth and dignity and being fired was a very painful experience for them. I felt of them, but needed to temper my sadness for them with my concern for the health of the organization to which I was responsible. Poorly performing employees can bring the whole team down. If the work is important, then it needs to be done well. Sometimes people need to be fired.
But sometimes, it is possible to fire someone up instead of firing them. I have done that too and it is highly satisfying to help turn someone’s poor performance around with clear expectations and encouragement when they make an effort to improve.
Someone who enjoys firing people is just not suited to leading our nation. Empathy, compassion, encouragement, inspiration are what I want to see in a leader. I don’t want to follow someone who will exclude large groups of people from the process, in essence firing everyone who might disagree. Instead, I want to follow someone who will fire us all up and inspire us to do our best. That is the message I am getting from the Democrats this week, one that resonates with me as a person of faith. I do wish the other party had fired their candidate, who is just not suited for the job.