Paul Downs: The Firing of the Veteran

This is the final post in our series with guest writer, Paul Downs, author of the book Boss Life: Surviving My Own Small Business

I’d like to conclude my contribution to Books & Whatnot with a series of posts that appeared in the spring of 2014. This is a long read, recounting why I discharged an employee who had worked for me for two decades. The story starts with a request from my shop manager to review all of the employees, after having neglected this duty for several years. That task completed, I try to move some of my people into different roles, in order to both accommodate their desire for advancement and make the shop operate better. And then the problems start.

If you don’t have time for the whole series, just read Parts 5 & 6. My recap of the day I fired my veteran worker made the Times’ “Most Read” and “Most Emailed” list, and elicited a very large number of indignant comments from readers. And in the concluding post I try to explain myself to an audience that doesn’t understand what it’s like to run a very small, struggling business.

Part 1: My Disturbing Experience with Performance Reviews

Part 2: How We Picked a Format for Employee Reviews

Part 3: What We Learned by Doing Employee Reviews

Part 4: In Our Second Round of Employee Reviews, A Problem Emerges

Part 5: When a 20-Year Employee Becomes a Problem

Part 6: What I Learned from Firing my 20-Year Employee

Paul Downs

Paul Downs started making custom furniture in 1986, shortly after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in engineering. Downs has only one line on his résumé but he has a wide variety of skills gained in twenty-four years of running his business. His clients range from individuals and small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, all branches of the military, and foreign governments. Downs lives with his wife and three sons outside of Philadelphia.