Happy Holidays – You’re Fired

The holidays are a great time of year. Most people try to get in the holiday spirit early and I find that people are generally nicer.

However, there’s also the year-end crunch. There are deals to finish before year-end, commissions to collect, and sometimes a mad scramble towards the finish line.

With this comes the inevitable look ahead to the coming year. Everyone wants to hit the ground running in January and tries to get as many “ducks in a row” as possible to help that process.

For one of my clients, it meant firing me.

While this landlord client and I enjoyed success together on other projects, and some on this one, we have struggled to lease space in this one particular building. Everyone has been frustrated. It doesn’t matter how many showings we’ve had or proposals we have sent out. We are graded on one thing: signed leases.

And so during the fourth quarter, I could feel it coming. The pressure has been on for a while, but I was always able to assure them that the team was working hard, seeing every opportunity in the market, and hadn’t lost our enthusiasm for the project.

But now, it was time for a change. I could tell that my client wasn’t happy making the call. He said that he looks forward to working together on other projects, but that they felt some new energy would help this one.

And so now I have two choices: I could be angry, upset, or embarrassed and blame others (the building, the location, etc.) or I could own it and learn from it.

We are going to get together this month to debrief on the project. I am going to ask questions that I might not like the answers to and hope they are honest with me. Where did I fall short? What could I have done better? If I don’t, I can’t really learn from the experience.

About 10 years ago, I got fired from a building assignment. The way I handled it, according to the client, led them to hire me for two other assignments.

As I tell clients at the beginning of each assignment, I am not worried about what our agreement says with respect to termination. If you aren’t happy with us, we probably aren’t happy with you.

To that end, I am also going to ask myself some hard questions: Should we have resigned from the building sooner? Where should I spend my time so that it’s most productive?

Will they ask me my thoughts on how we could have been more successful? Maybe they will.  If they do, I will answer honestly as I want them to be successful going forward.

Getting fired stinks. It hasn’t happened in a while, and hopefully, won’t happen again any time soon. Using this as a learning experience should help us.  If it doesn’t, we just got fired.