Little-known Jory fact: I was fired from my very first job after only one month.
That’s because, hands down, I was the worst delivery girl to ever work at Pizza Hut in Noble, OK. On my first day of pizza-delivery work, I lost my car keys for nearly two hours. My dad had to come bring a spare set so that I could make my second delivery. And I was far too slow at moving a pizza from Pizza Hut to peoples’ homes. Once, I delivered a pizza to the wrong apartment in Noble, and a little old man pulled a gun on me. The people who actually ordered the pizza lived in an apartment a block away, and they called my manager to complain when I finally showed up.
Eventually, my manager sat me down to ask how I thought my first month of work was going. I don’t remember what I said, but I know I was thinking something along the lines of, Are you kidding? I suck at this! Thankfully, the manager agreed with that line of thinking. I remember that he said he liked my enthusiasm and attitude, but I just wasn’t cut out to be a pizza delivery girl. We were in complete agreement, and I was relieved.
Ten years later, I’m now on the other side of the equation. Since January, 2007, I’ve been in charge of hiring and managing other people. When I find myself in a situation of having to fire someone, I find myself thinking back to my first job and the experience of being fired. It certainly wasn’t a pleasant, proud experience, but I really appreciate now how my manager handled the situation. I try to imagine myself in the future ex-employee’s shoes, and how the news might affect him or her. I try to be as honest as possible (without being too blunt) about the reasons they’re being fired. I also tell them the things I appreciated about their work, because I don’t think being fired from a job should preclude them from listing their time in my company on future job applications.
I’ve managed about 25 different people so far, and I’ve had to fire five for varying reasons. It makes me very happy that I am still on friendly terms with those people. A few have even listed me as a reference for other jobs. The bottom line is that they are good people who just weren’t good fits for the job at the time. Getting fired never feels good, so I think it’s really important for managers to have empathy and maybe some experience being fired. At any point, my boss could decide to fire me, and I’d be in the same boat as those I’ve fired. I just want to make sure I’m welcomed on the boat if I ever end up there.