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October 05, 2006


Reminded me of the Northwest fiasco a few months back (

Why can't we put ourselves in the other person's shoes and respond empathically! Its depressing that HR departments continue to do this.

Want to be more depressed, upset and angry? The email firing issue has gotten a lot of press, both here and in Europe. The best article I've seen on it appeared in the Christian Science Monitor. Here's the quote that really got me.

"In an informal survey of 500 members of her association, 37 percent say they use face-to-face meetings to deliver bad news. Twenty-nine percent rely on e-mail. Layoffs top the list of the most common issues they communicate to employees."

In other words, 29 percent see email and a preferred and perfectly OK method.

Here's the link to the whole story.

Well you both are not making me feel any better! This is a scary trend.

Lisa - I saw a Yahoo story a few months back where a British employer laid off workers via text message. Their rationale? That the gen-Y crowd is "into technology" and this is how they want their communication. Um. No thanks. If this is where HR is headed, then it makes me even more grateful to be an independent consultant.

Hi gang.

Appalling behaviour than makes me ashamed to be of the same species.

Unfettered cowardice that must have started with one weak human - and then condoned by those around them.

THe UK txt message thing was the same and you cant read a little more here

it's wholly indefensible.

I've participated in discussions of this on other blogs and there are always people who make the "they're Gen Y and love technology so this is better" argument. And there have been a couple of folks who say that they'd prefer the email/text message way to get the word. None of that makes it right.

People are people. They are not numbers, interchangable parts or human resources. They are people with names and histories and people who love them. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

In my experience, most of the folks who favor the indirect methods of firing are those who are unwilling to be accountable face-to-face and who often are the lousy boss who is the cause of people being surprised when their pay envelope contains a pink slip.

Yeah, I agree. Even if someone says they would have preferred a text message, I would not do it. Some conversations are SUPPOSED to be difficult. That said, I am also an advocate of making the face to face meeting not drag on forever - that's just cruel.

Back when I was in my corporte period, I was responsible for a number of facilities across the US. I was also responsible for deciding who would get promoted when a Center Manager position opened up. The idea was to promote an assistant manager from one facility to a manager's slot. One of my rules was that I would not promote anyone who had never fired anyone. If you care at all about people, it's very hard to pull the trigger on a firing, no matter how justified.

But there was a companion rule as well. I would not promote someone unless they agonized over a firing and found it difficult. I think messing around with other people's lives is serious business and when you make decisions that you know will cause hurt, you should be uncomfortable, even if, in the end, you make the decision that causes hurt for the right reasons.

I totally agree, Wally, well said. These are people's lives we are dealing with. I don't advocating keeping people on when the fit and performance is not there, but it should always be hard when someone loses a job - even with generous severance.

I can play "can you top this" for a while with the passive/aggressive management style I've learned to live with in order to keep a roof over my head. One of my more dramatic experiences being laid off was the information that Fluor Daniel no longer needed my services. This information was relayed to my land line voice mail at approximately 7:30 pm (I was out for the evening and got the news at around midnight). They didn't even have the integrity to inform me themselves but left it up to the agency that originally contracted me. Apparently they cleaned out my desk after I left for the day, stuffed it in a box, and left it with the engineering company office NEXT DOOR, so their security guard wouldn't have to deal with me.

Sometimes I'd like to think I'm that scary, but ... well, even my kids don't believe I'm all that tough to get along with.

Margherite - wow, that's pretty bad. I am sorry you had to experience that, but thanks for sharing your story.

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