Many years ago, when I was the manager of a restaurant, I had to let an employee go. It was the first time I ever had to fire someone. Let’s face it: it’s not much fun.


This employee, whom we will call Joe, never quite got it. He was a good enough kid, eager and all, but he just couldn’t figure the job out. After doing the dirty work, I watched as he walked across the street, his head held down in dejection. You could see the sadness in his gait. I have to admit, it broke my heart.

I searched for ideas on how things might have worked out differently. What could be done in the future to avoid having to do this unpleasant task. As the ideas bounced around in my small brain, it dawned on me that this guy never had a chance.

Because of me

He never had a chance, because I, the manager, never really showed him the ropes. I did not make sure he got the proper training needed to be successful at his job. Shame on me. I just pointed him in the general direction, asked others to show him around and then left him to fail–never giving him feedback, positive or negative.

No one showed me what to do

One of the main reasons people quit or get fired is because they are never shown how to do the job. Not trained.

How can a manager, an owner, an establishment, possibly expect things of employees if they are never told the right way to do them? They can’t. Or at least they shouldn’t.

Never again

I vowed that day to do all I can to make sure that something like this never happened again. It will not be my fault if an employee fails. I will give all employees the tools needed to succeed.

Joe actually could have been great at the job. For one thing he was extremely nice. Always a smile on his face. In the hospitality business, that is more than 50% of the job. If his boss (me) only knew what he was doing at the time, Joe might have ended up owning the place.

Not likely

Okay, maybe that was an exaggeration. But, who knows? Who knows what can be possible once an employee is empowered? This was a missed opportunity. And I will not let an opportunity like that slip through again.

Wherever you are

Joe–wherever you are–I am sorry. I am sorry that you were stuck with a bad manager. I am sorry you were not given the chance to succeed. I hope you can forgive me.


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