Q.: I keep trying to find a fit for a young man who is in need of work, and it’s just not working out. He is nice and sincere. The problem is that he isn’t good at any of the tasks I have asked him to handle. He misses deadlines even when I remind him of them, time and again. He doesn’t record phone messages accurately, so I don’t have the right numbers to call back clients. I could go on and on, but basically he is not a good fit for me. But I feel guilty, because I like him and he has been loyal, even if he has not been effective.
How do I say goodbye with the least amount of pain? And how can I help him find another job? – At the Edge, Shreveport, La.
A.: Be honest with this young man. Tell him that you have made a good-faith effort to carve out a role for him but that you realize you and he are not a good fit.
Recommend areas in which you think he may excel, but do so only if you honestly believe you have figured out potential paths to success for him. He may need education to shore up his skills. You can suggest that he go back to school to learn a vocation or to study a subject in which he has expressed interest and potential ability.
Be careful not to recommend him for a job that you don’t think he can do, as that would tarnish your professional reputation. If he asks for a recommendation, tell him what you can say and what you cannot. Your greatest gift to him will be your honesty so he can figure out how to improve on the skills he has.
Q.: A friend of mine just lost her job, and it happened in a really embarrassing way. I feel so bad for her. She is a good egg, even though it’s questionable whether she was good at the job she had. Still, a lot of people know she got fired, and she’s very sad.
As her good friend, I want to support her, but I’m not sure how. She has stood up well under pressure so far, but I don’t know how to approach her. I think it’s different when you are close to someone. Oddly, I think it makes it tougher to talk about what’s going on.
I want to help. How can I? – Supportive, Toledo, Ohio
A.: Losing a job is one of the most difficult experiences to weather. That your friend’s job loss was public in some way only makes it more challenging to move through, because her ego is involved. Honestly, it doesn’t matter how tough she is – the blow has to hurt. There is no guarantee that your friend will accept your overtures, but it’s definitely worth it to try. Reach out and ask her if she would like to go out and have some fun. In the first few days of her job loss, it’s unlikely that she would want to talk about what happened, but she may be happy for a diversion. Offer that to her. Your help may be your ability to be the great neutralizer. Just be present and give your friend the space she needs to decide whether she wants to just hang out or to be emotional and talk about the situation.
Remain an active listener. Give no evaluation. Just be present and loving toward her. For now, that’s what she needs most.