Today I was challenged with a tough conversation, and one I learned a lot about myself and all employees. Terminations in general are pretty scary and can rock the boat. But what we don’t usually see is the internal stories people create. In my particular case, the person who was terminated was open, communicative, and willing to improve their performance. When they were terminated, another employee who is also open, communicative, and willing (although not needing to) improve their performance felt their job security was in jeopardy.
The backlash was incomprehensible. I saw tears in a typically strong and fun person. I felt empathy for someone who usually challenges me. I heard a word such as “being let go, fired, quitting” from what usually is a committed and loyal employee.
The outcome was good, we squashed the story created, but it took a while to dig to get where the fear was stemming from. Once we both acknowledged what was the cause, we were able to see how a story can be bad. Her personal learning was that she needs to continue to be outspoken, open, and willing as these are her strengths and natural, and that her coworkers termination is not the same path that she is on, even if they shared many similar characteristics.