10 Honest Reasons I Was A Horrible Boss Who Often Fired Good Employees

The mistakes we make lead us to the people we're destined to become.

serious businesswoman boss Tima Miroshnichenko / Pexels

In the scheme of owning a company, it's normal to have people quit. And while I've spent most of my adult life working for myself, getting fired is a rare occurrence. Except for certain individuals who worked for me.

I fired eight people in eight years of owning my business. But why did I cut people loose so easily? In short, I was a horrible boss. Either I expected too much, imposed unrealistic deadlines, or hired the wrong people and then spent their tenure regretting it.


I've learned a lot by being a horrible boss, perhaps most importantly that being a good boss is an art unto itself.

Here are 10 reasons I was a horrible boss who fired good employees quite often

1. I didn't have leadership skills

Being a good boss isn't something you're born with, it's something you must have the proper skills to achieve and become good at. For me, I lacked the leadership skills necessary for being a good boss and, because of that, I wasn't the boss I had once aspired to be.

Just because we do a job well doesn't mean we're primed for management. Leadership training is precious, and it's something I've since learned along the way.




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2. Management wasn't in my wheelhouse

In my case, my public speaking and writing inspired many of my employees, but being a manager just wasn't something I was good at. Not everyone is meant to lead. And that's okay!

But during those eight years where I fired many good employees, it wasn't because they weren't right for the job; rather, it was because managing others wasn't my strong point.


3. Owning a huge business wasn't for me

I want to do good work in manageable chunks. In our society of grow, grow, grow, it takes courage to shrink a company and to start loving the work again, especially if it's your own business.

I decided to shrink my business and resume working from home because I liked the work, but had no desire to spend my days managing others.

4. I lacked proper communication skills

These skills are a learned art and are essential for all parts of life, whether it's related to career, or romantic or interpersonal relationships. As a boss, I failed to communicate properly with my employees and, as such, this resulted in numerous misunderstandings and eventual firings.

Even people in communications professions may not interact one-on-one so smoothly, but they're the last people to realize they're bad communicators.


10 Reasons I Was A Horrible Boss Who Often Fired Good Employees Photo: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

5. I projected what I wanted and what I feared onto my employees

Great leadership comes from seeing the other person as yourself. But when I was a horrible boss, this wasn't the case. Instead of seeing myself on the other side, as an employee, I put my projections onto my employees.

Instead, I wish I had looked at them as living, breathing individuals with goals and dreams. But I was too caught up in my own frailties to see.


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6. I hired my friends

Don't hire friends and don't hire people who haven't worked in years.

Most of the women I hired had been home with their kids, taking odd jobs to earn extra income. They didn't need to work and they didn't want to work, at least not too hard.

To build a team, you have to be all in — all of you.

7. I thought I could work well with people I already knew

Like hiring friends, just because you know someone doesn't mean you should work together.

Yes, you can be sure they won't steal or burn down your house, but that doesn't mean you'll work together well. In fact, they're less likely to take you seriously as a boss because they know you personally. And you probably won't stay friends when it's all over.


When I was a horrible boss, I surrounded myself with people I knew, yet found that the dynamic didn't work well. It led to many disagreements and the dissolution of a long-term friendship.



8. I hadn't yet learned that business is business

It's not personal. Not everyone knows this. Unfortunately, I hadn't quite grasped the concept at that point.

If a piece of writing needs editing or campaign results are disappointing, it doesn't mean the person who worked on it is less of a person. Successful people maintain a thick skin, and though I have a strong personality and prefer direct communication, saying it like it is, this rubbed people the wrong way.


I've since learned that in business, it's not personal, and if I like things a certain way, that's all it is.

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9. I took it personally when someone quit

When I didn't fire employees and they decided to quit instead, I took this as a personal jab. But I failed to understand that, combined with my position as the boss, employees may quit for personal reasons or to pursue other ambitions.

It has nothing to do with you, even if they cite you as the reason for their departure. After all, there are plenty of horrible bosses that people stay with for years.



10. I was too worried about money

Whether it was a low hourly wage or a low salary, I was more worried about paying bills and paying myself than offering competitive wages. When people became fed up, I thought it was about me and my finances, rather than the low pay.


Quality people can, and should, be selective. You get what you pay for, and companies need to pay for talent.

The mistakes we make lead us to the people we're destined to become.

These days, I take a deep breath and see in the person across the table the same fragile soul that burns within me, which makes me the best boss I can possibly be.


Back then, I wasn't a great boss, and most of that came from having no management training, but I also learned that part of my missteps came from unresolved emotional issues of my own.

Even though I've never been fired, I had this notion that employment is a tenuous tightrope of making nice and doing stellar work. But I've learned that hiring is like any other relationship: if you want it to last, you have to have empathy, be in it for the long haul, and stick around when times get tough.

10 Reasons I Was A Horrible Boss Who Often Fired Good Employees Photo: Edmond Dantès / Pexels


My own insecurities about not being good enough or not being liked colored my view of others. All my life I'd been told I was bossy and had a big mouth, which I took to mean I wasn't lovable. I never quite trusted that friends and lovers were with me because they wanted to be; I kept waiting for them to leave.

I felt the same way about my staff, which may be why I let employees go before they could walk out on me.

I have a team these days and I've hired well. I love working with them and, even better, they love working for me.

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Lynne Meredith Golodner is a writer, journalist, public relations pro, entrepreneur, and author of nine books. Her bylines have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Better Homes and Gardens, the Chicago Tribune, Good Housekeeping, Midwest Living, and Parents Magazine, among others.