Ghastly Repercussions for HR Duty?

Firing employees isn’t easy, but the repercussions shouldn’t be deadly.

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The recent fatal shooting of a news anchor and her cameraman brought a familiar sick sense to me and my gut again; there are far too many people getting murdered by disgruntled former employees of companies.  One article talked about how the gunman was “axed,” i.e., terminated, and apparently he was suing the network on grounds of discrimination.  Regardless of the details, here is what I heard again, and all too often these past few years: employee gets fired, then employee murders. I can’t help but think of the person who DID the firing, and where they stand in all of this.  Seems like they are never mentioned, but being in HR myself, and having terminated many people in my management career, these are the things I wonder:

  • Who was the person who did the termination, and do they feel the least bit guilty or disturbed?  Do they wonder if they could have done things differently, if it would have mattered?
  • Why was the person fired, and how was it done?  Did it come as a complete surprise to the person that they were let go, or did they have many warnings that this was inevitable if they did not improve?
  • Should we look at how we terminate employees, and come up with a ‘better’ way that might help prevent these ghastly repercussions when someone is fired?
  • How do we protect the rest of our employees after a termination has happened? Is there any way to know, any clues at all, about which employees might retaliate after they are fired?
  • Is there any kind of counseling or monitoring we should be doing with employees that are terminated after they are fired, like give them free counseling to deal with the news, or someone monitor their mood to see if they have a potential to become violent?
  • If I had to terminate someone today, would I feel comfortable doing my duty to the company (by getting rid of an employee who is not performing up to standard) knowing that these incidents are increasing out there? Would I feel safe?
  • For this situation in particular, why were two people killed that obviously, based on their job position, had nothing whatsoever to do with firing that gunman?  How do they become the ‘guilty’ ones in his opinion, having to pay with their lives?

It upsets me, and I wonder if these all-too-common incidents bother other people in HR and management. Nobody likes to be the one to terminate an employee, but it is sometimes necessary.  Who lives are we putting at risk when the decision is made, and the deed is done?

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