I run a small medical clinic. I recently fired a problem employee who royally deserved it.
We gave her chance after chance to improve. She never took responsibility for the serious and increasing errors she made. She constantly criticized her coworkers and our physician owner to hospital employees.
Worst of all, she broke company policy by establishing a personal relationship with a patient. She was a pathological liar.
I had hoped termination would put an end the damage she caused. No such luck. She’s texting my employees accusing me of “destroying her”. She warns them to watch their backs because of my deceitful nature.
This is galling because I tried my best to rehabilitate this employee, until she made it impossible.
It wasn’t, however, my decision that to terminate her and it wears on me that she thinks so badly of me.
Here’s my question: Should I write her a letter explaining that it wasn’t my decision to terminate her? The truth is that I tried to sway my doctor to give her one last chance. Or should I just get over it and move on? And if that’s what I need to do, how do I move on?
Move on. If you send her a letter, it could potentially undermine the termination.
Here are three questions to ask yourself:
- Would you really want to keep a pathological liar who makes serious errors for which she doesn’t take responsibility on staff?
- Do you want to undercut your relationship with your physician owner? (After all, your former employee might send him your letter.)
- Why have you let this woman’s lies get to you?
- How come you pass all the responsibility for the termination decision to your physician owner, when you should have been the one to petition him to fire her?
Your former employee appears to have turned herself into an alleged victim with you as the person to blame. Given that, she won’t believe what you write. Worse, she might use it to create trouble by providing it to an attorney as she contests an unfair firing, noting that you admitted you didn’t agree she should be fired.
You can, however, take action to lessen the damage she causes. Let your employees know they don’t need to keep accepting her texts and can even route them to you if they want. This may take away part of your former employee’s fun.
You can also have your attorney send your former employee a strongly worded letter asking her to cease and desist as she’s interfering with your clinic’s business and defaming you.
Here’s what I sense. Your former employee targets one of your weaknesses—that of wanting to be liked or at least understood. There’s nothing wrong with wanting approval, but the need for approval can make you oversensitive to criticism and vulnerable to those who want to manipulate you.
Here’s what you can do to move on: Ask yourself why you allow your former employee to rent space in your head. From everything you’ve said, she created the need for her termination by not taking responsibility. When employees do that, they invariably cast blame, and as clinic manager you’re positioned in the line of fire.
Your former employee’s texts cast mud — or at least sand — your way, so it matters greatly how you respond to the employees who bring them to you. Don’t react defensively and don’t try to make your case to your other employees by what you say about your former employee. Instead say something like, “That’s truly too bad that she doesn’t get it. I hope for the best for her.” Then, continue about your day.
Her texts will become yesterday’s news. What matters to your current employees is how you treat them as valued employees..
© 2020, Lynne Curry
Lynne Curry, Ph.D., SPHR, is the author of “Beating the Workplace Bully” (AMACOM, 2016, https://amzn.to/30V5JO6) and “Solutions”, https://amzn.to/2GYlnAN (both books are rated 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com). Send your questions to her at Ask a Coach at www.workplacecoachblog.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or www.communicationworks.net or follower her on twitter @lynnecurry10.
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