Momentum Podcast: 836

Termination Lessons Learned

by Alex Charfen

Episode Description

Ending a professional relationship is never easy, especially when it involves someone you've worked with. This is especially true for business owners, who often find themselves having to let employees go. In my early career, I had a tendency to handle these situations in a reactive manner, which often resulted in burned bridges and ended not just the professional relationship, but the personal one as well. However, I've learned from my mistakes and now approach these situations differently.

When I had to end my relationship with Jeremy Bergeron, I was determined not to let it affect our personal relationship. I sat down with him and explained the situation, making sure he understood that while our business relationship was changing, I still valued our friendship. Years later, Jeremy and I are still friends, and he may even be returning to work with my company in a new venture.

In this podcast, I will share what these lessons have taught me. Namely, that as an entrepreneur, you don't have to make someone wrong or react with frustration or anger when ending a professional relationship. You can handle it in a way that allows for a continued personal relationship.

If you are ready to get out of your business's day-to-day, go to and register for a call with our team.

Full Audio Transcript

This is the Momentum podcast.

Ending an employment relationship with someone is never easy. When someone works with you and it comes time to wrap things up. It is one of the most challenging experiences as a business owner. I look at all the layoffs that are happening right now in the world. A lot of tech companies are laying people off, and I know the people who sent those emails to let people know that they were no longer working with the company had a hard time doing it because that's just how it is. It's never easy to end a relationship, but in my early career, I ended relationships in a way that was challenging, in a way that burned bridges, in a way that did not continue the relationships. And I'm so glad that I've learned lessons from how I used to be to how I am today. And I'd like to share that with you. I'm Alex Charfen and this is the Momentum Podcast. Made for Empire Builders, game changers, trailblazers, shot takers, record breakers, world makers and creators of all kinds. Those among us who can't turn it off and don't know why anyone would want to. We challenge complacency, destroy apathy, and we are obsessed with creating momentum so we can roll over bureaucracy and make our greatest contribution. Should we pay attention to their rules, but only so that we can bend them, break them, then rewrite them around our own will? We don't accept our destiny. We define it. We don't understand defeat because you only lose if you stop and we don't know how. While the rest of the world strives for average and clings desperately to the status quo, we are the minority, the few who are willing to hallucinate. There could be a better future. And instead of just daydreaming of what could be, we endure the vulnerability and exposure it takes to make it real. We are the evolutionary hunters, clearly the most important people in the world, because entrepreneurs are the only source of consistent, positive human evolution and we always will be.

So I am in my sauna this morning and I don't have my normal microphone, so if I sound a little bit different, that's why. And I just felt inspired to record this podcast because this morning I woke up to a Facebook post from a friend of mine named Jeremy Bergeron, who posted Knowing Alex Charfen is like having a human cheek code for business. I think I said that right. I might be paraphrasing from paraphrasing, but it made my morning seeing something like that and hearing something like that and being able to read it. I took a picture of it. I'm going to share it with my team. It just makes my day. And you know, when we get compliments from anyone like that, it makes us feel extraordinary. But in this case, it's even more special, even more important to me, because Jeremy used to work with us years ago. Jeremy was a salesperson for our company and one of the best salespeople I've ever had. And we got to a point where we no longer wanted to sell the way we were selling, and we decided to have our coaches do some selling. And so we terminated the employment relationship with Jeremy, and that were terminated is like such a such a challenging term. You know, any time that I've had to let someone go or change the relationship of employment with someone, it's been really hard for me in business. You know, I like to call it a redeployment because terminated is such a challenging word. But I'll share with you just some reflections I have on making those decisions and how I did things differently with Jeremy and how I do things differently today. So when I was younger and it came time to terminate a relationship with somebody, this may be relatable to you and may not be, but I think it might help some of you out there because what I've observed in myself and what I've observed with people that I've coached is oftentimes when we terminate someone, we have to make that person wrong. And let me personalize this. When I terminated someone in the past, I had to make that person wrong. I had to make myself angry with that person and frustrated with that person and, you know, make it so that it was their fault that we were ending the relationship. And it didn't matter what the situation was. I always went into terminations, a little reactive. I brought too much energy to the situation. My discomfort would turn into frustration and anxiety and anger, and I would terminate the relationship in a way that terminated not just the business relationship, but then in many cases, the relationship itself. And if you're someone who's ever worked for me in the past and this happened to you, I just want to apologize. I've repaired those bridges wherever I can. I've reached out to people throughout my career who I've had that experience with, and it's never easy to go back to someone and say, Hey, I'm sorry for how this ended. And today it's just not like that anymore for me. You know, I can remember sitting down with Jeremy and explaining to him why we were making a change and and telling him overtly, like, Jeremy, you know, this is going to change our business relationship. But I don't want it to change the personal relationship between us. And since then, Jeremy and I have created a friendship, and he's an incredible human being, just such a good person and such a good father and such a good entrepreneur. And he's been to my house with his girlfriend, I think fiance, maybe girlfriend. Sorry, Jeremy, if I'm advancing things there, we've connected over and over again. And this week we have a call because he's in a new business venture where he wants help and it looks like he may come back and work with our company in this new organization that he's working with, this new business that he looks like he's going to end up in a a decision making, maybe even partnership capacity. And so I'm really excited about having the call with him, But I'm even more excited or more happy about the fact that 20 years ago this never would have happened because. I ended relationships in a way where it just wasn't. Feasible to continue any type of relationship. And I thought that's what I had to do. I thought I had to get angry. I felt like I had to get frustrated. I felt like I had to make it their fault. And it was such a challenging way to make changes and to change business relationships. And so here's the lessons I've learned. If you are an entrepreneur with a team and you ever have to make a change, let me just share some of them with you. So number one is it doesn't have to be the person's fault. It can be the business situation. It can be a decision that you're making. And even in the termination relationship route, sorry, the redeployment conversation or termination conversation, let's say redeployment, you can tell the person, hey, look, this isn't your fault. And I know it ends up sounding like, hey, it's not you, it's me. Which is such a cliche, But that's what I did with Jeremy. I remember telling him, Hey, man, this isn't because of anything you've done, it's because we're making changes. And I want to maintain the relationship with you. And, you know, you're an incredible person. And this isn't anything that you've done. And because I did it that way, we were able to maintain a relationship. And because I didn't make him bad or make him the wrong person, we were able to maintain the relationship. And so if you are in a situation where you're going to make changes with your team, here's some lessons. Number one, it doesn't have to be that person's fault. Let them know it's not their fault if it's not. I mean, if you're terminating somebody because there's because there's issues, be very honest with them about that, too. I always try to be very clear about why, if there's cause, if there's reasons, if there's a reason that they're not performing right, that I'm very honest with them. But when it's me making a change because I'm making a change, I also try to be as open and honest as I can about that. And so in this situation, the fact that he's come back to us and is working with us again or is potentially working with us again shows just how important it is to maintain the relationship. The second lesson that I've learned is relationships. Trump everything, and I know that that sounds like a cliche, but when you look at the world of relationships and just life in general, sorry, in the world of business and life in general, relationships are so crucially important. And I'm 50 now and I've been running businesses for over 30 years, and I know that ages me and makes me sound super old because when I was younger, if somebody had said that, I would have said, Wow, that person is old. But with age comes some level of wisdom, or maybe better said, some level of learning and introspection and maturation in how we handle things. And so today I know just how crucial relationships are. And since Jeremy stopped working with us, I think there's been, I mean, a half dozen times, maybe more, where he's referred somebody to us or he's reached out and had something that he could help us with. And I know he's talked to people who've been thinking about joining our program and encouraged them to do that. And in the past, that just wouldn't have happened because that would have made him the bad guy. I would have made him wrong. I felt like that's what I had to do. And the last lesson from this or another lesson that I've learned from this is that businesses change. But that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with the people that are in the business. And when you have to make a change or when something happens in the business that you do have to make a change, it's never easy. Termination relationships are redeployment, redeployment, conversations, termination of relationships or within the business or redeployment conversations are always difficult. And so today, before I have one of these conversations, I get really clear. I sit down, I take notes, I make sure that I know what I'm going to say. I'm as clear as I can be. I make sure that I don't bring too much energy to the situation, that I'm not reactive or triggered or in a state where I'm going to energetically let that person know that there's something wrong with them. And at the beginning of a lot of these conversations, when I've had them recently, I'll say, Hey, I want you to know this is not easy for me. So if I sound like I'm accelerating or if I sound like I'm frustrated or anxious, I am because I care about you and I want you to know that that's not about you. That's about me and my history with having to lay people off or terminate people. And so I just want you to know, you know, I want us to maintain this relationship. And those three lessons have changed things for me when it comes to redeploying people in my organizations. And it has completely changed the relationship after that redeployment. And so if you are building a team and you have an organization of people and you have to make a change, hopefully some of these lessons will help you. And hopefully you never started out like I did in the first place thinking that you had to be. Angry with people to let them go. And you can approach the situation with empathy and care and concern for the other person while at the same time making the right decision for your business. And it will change everything for you. Hopefully this helps, you know, and this is a good morning for me and I'm excited about meeting with Jeremy this week and I'm completely humbled by the posts that he made and it makes me feel like I've not only grown in this type of relationship, but that I've also gotten to a place where I've completely changed an aspect of running a business that used to be a major weakness for me, a major challenge for me, an issue for me that in the moment back then when I was terminating people in a way that was not kind, not empathetic, not not present, not aware, triggered and reactive, I didn't know. And so if you're early stage growing a business and growing a team, hopefully this will help you. And if you are growing the team and your business is scaling, your business is growing and you want help with the process and the structure and the routine that will help you stop being the biggest bottleneck, get the help you need and grow and scale a team around you that will help you get out of the day to day tactics and be the strategic thinker in the business. Reach out to us. Let us help you. Go to Click the button right there on the homepage and set up a call with our team. You might even get on a call with me. I've been taking calls lately just to understand when types of people are coming towards us and to get more clear as we make some product improvements on exactly what issues people are facing. And so I reach out to us. Let us help. You don't have to do this on your own. Go to And remember, just because you change a business relationship doesn't have to permanently damage the relationship you have with that person. Thanks for listening today and I look forward to talking to you on the next podcast.

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