Apparently it was ten years to the day since I had terminated his employment in the company. He just wanted to say thank you...
He went on to say that he had recognized subconsciously that he was no longer happy in his work nor was he productive. But in the absence of someone else confirming it, he did not know how to move on. When he was let go he felt a freedom that he had been longing. He used his separation allowance to fund a new business which was now a prosperous ten years old. So 'Happy Anniversary' was very appropriate.
This was not the first, or last, kind of response that I have had from others that I have fired. One individual told me that they could never have foreseen the opportunity to go back to school to pursue the career in public relations that they had always dreamt of. Another person told me that getting into a sports career was beyond their expectations until I told them that their services were no longer required.
The point of these examples is this. All companies, regardless of their size, are organic entities. Things change as market demand, competition, and a host of other factors require a company to make appropriate responses in order to remain viable. Unfortunately the skill sets of individuals do not tend to change as quickly. Over time some become the proverbial square peg trying to fit in a round hole. When that happens it creates friction and dissatisfaction which manifests itself in the form of poor productivity. Sometimes training allows for an improved fit. But just as often, the person needs to find a new role, usually outside the company. Putting off the decision is simply a vote for the status quo. It only delays the inevitable. So ACT like a leader!
There is always 'life after' any employment situation. As the leader it is your responsibility to identify those who are struggling with the circumstances and then to act appropriately. This is not a 'with cause' type of separation. You must respect the contributions which the individual has made in the past and their inability to move on in the present. If you remember this short motto it will be easier for all involved. '...do the right thing for the company; do the right thing by the employee...'
In most instances new doors open with opportunities that could never have been imagined. Who knows, you might even receive your own 'happy anniversary' call!