Is there a better way to be handed a pink slip?

Is there a better way to be handed a pink slip?

Summary: Sadly, we're talking about the other kind of pink slip.I know what you're probably thinking: What a ridiculous question.

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TOPICS: CXO, IT Employment
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Sadly, we're talking about the other kind of pink slip.
I know what you're probably thinking: What a ridiculous question. There is no gentle way to hand out pink slip. There is no way to be told that "your services are no longer needed" but "here is the number to our local unemployment office" and/or "an explanation of why we won't be offering severance packages this round" that doesn't sting. Want to do it better? Don't do it at all.

But, it is hard to argue that there aren't better and worse ways to break bad news. Countless layoff horror stories abound-- from IMs to being informed by security that you are just a "visitor" now and disabled network connections--suggesting that even the so-called smartest companies could use a little tutorial in how to break bad news with respect and tact.

Jason Calcanis, on the day his company, Mahalo, shed 10 percent of their staff, shared lessons he'd learned laying off employees with TechCrunch.

1. Don’t spread layoffs over multiple rounds: Rounds of layoffs is a "horrible idea", says Calcanis, because it creates massive fear and uncertainty inside of your organization. 2. Lay people off in a group, not individually: Calcanis found that telling people one-by-one was not more humane. 3. Don’t sugarcoat the rationale: Be 100 percent honest and upfront about why you chose to keep some people and not others. 4. Cutting jobs is better than cutting salaries: Rather than angering everyone in the organization by hurting all of their bottom lines, cut a few salaries altogether and leave the people you want to keep as happy as possible. 5. Give severance even if you don't have to, and freelancer work, where you can: Be as generous as you can be, said Calcanis, and don't forget these people when you start hiring again. 6. Lay people off at the end of the day: No need to keep people around until the end of the day or week. When they're done, let them leave. 7. Get over it and get back to work: The reality is, everyone else needs to get back to work.

How about you? If you've ever been laid off, how do you think it could have been handled better?

Topics: CXO, IT Employment

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36 comments
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  • How about this:

    "I'm sorry that the collateral debt obligations that were securitised as part of our ongoing risk amelioration program have resulted in a capitalisation issue that affects our human resources capacity"
    DonnieBoy
    • You are an expert, aren't you?

      Surely you were laid off from everywhere before getting used to the idea that the only place for you is your mom's basement.
      markbn
    • Is That What Your Mom Said To...

      You before she kicked your butt to the curb?

      My lord, there's no end with you, is there?
      Kromaethius
  • I sort of like the way the Brits put it...

    ..."you have been made redundant".
    Mark-Twain
  • I'm confused about #6

    You say "Lay people off at the end of the day" but then you say "No need to keep people around until the end of the day..."

    Well, which is it?
    techvet
    • I'm confused about it too n/t

      n/t = no text
      markbn
    • She means

      Not to tell them 8 hours of five days before they're gone.
      daengbo
  • Have a layoff party.

    Only laid off people are invited. The trick is to make certain that no one knows what its for, why only certain people are invited, or why its mandatory until they announce it at the party.

    The "sympathy" cake and ice cream should work wonders too!

    I should work in upper management :)

    Also, make sure no sharp objects are brought to the party...
    T1Oracle
    • ? Management in Plastic?

      quote:
      The "sympathy" cake and ice cream should work wonders too!
      end quote

      Yeah works really great for throwing at management! :)

      Mike Sr.
      • The mirror image of your party was the norm

        at 3-Initial Corp's Consulting business operations. The Pig's swineherds would send out a mandatory invitation to a conference call a day in advance, to a distribution list so you couldn't see whose names were on it. There were operators to verify each person's admittance to the call. You were then told that a layoff had happened and that you, the attendees, had survived. Since no workers knew who else was on the call, you asked your mates for the next four weeks, "..were you on that call on July 5th?" One of the most memorable calls was on July 5th, 2001. The Fourth was on a Wednesday so the swineherds had to scramble to find everyone who was out on vacation and separate them into their respective herds. Nice moves!!

        Slightly more unnerving is the way the City of Fort Worth lays off. A job catagory is selected (based on perceived ease of contracting it if needed) and then selection of those laid off starts with the higher salaries, regardless of performance evelauation. So theoretically the most knowledgeable performers get axed first; and did I mention there is no severance pay? Your unused vacation time is all you get in that final check.
        lost in Texas
  • RE: Is there a better way to be handed a pink slip?

    this really only talks about redundancy situations, where often you have no choice. What about people who are just rubbish and need to go?
    lordbarron
    • Then you don't lay them off - you FIRE them. (NT)

      .
      Badgered
    • Probationary Period?

      Wow! I can relate to this one...

      Sometimes it's easier to get rid of the good people because they are less likely to go kicking and screaming...

      In this case, *IF* management *can* even come to their senses and *think* of firing the "dead weight"...

      Probably the two security guards and escort off the premises is indicated.

      We had a situation where a probie just wasn't "getting" it. All efforts were made to "rehabilitate" him, including trying to get him placed in a lesser technical position.

      It all failed.

      We were all herded out of the area while he cleared his stuff out.

      It hurt all of us because he was a nice guy... But, we were all having to do his work load...

      What mixed feelings...

      Mike Sr.
  • I've been in Number 1...

    I've been with a company that did it's layoffs just like in outline 1. It sucked. I made it through the rounds, there were several of them and by the time the last layoff was over and seeing many of my friends go, I decided that it was time for me to go. I was wore out of the cuts and heartbreaks.

    The company really showed its true colors when they hired the corperate management to come in and ruin the entire operation. Sure, in the beginning round, they got rid of some people that needed to go.

    Round two, three and four was cutting services, and "Your services are no longer needed..." I've seen people who's been with them for 7 and 8 years and just coldly and publically let go.

    By round six, the final round, I was completely frazzled and I then turned to my boss and let him know that I didn't sign on for any of this -- We both quit a day apart after I was promoted of all things.
    Kromaethius
  • Star date May 14, 2004

    I'm called into HR at my employer of 16 years and told my job has been eliminated. This is my "two week notification period", I'm told. However, I've been given 44 weeks of "Supplemental Unemployment Benefits". What are those, you ask? Well, it's a special kind of severance that's paid thru a trust. It's not subject to Social Security or Medicare taxes. Effectively, I'll be collecting 107% of my normal pay for not getting out of bed. And it comes with another benefit. Because of the way the trust is structured (approved by the IRS), this money doesn't exist, at least as far as the state Unemployment Department is concerned. Yep, while I'm collecting 107% of my normal pay, I also get to collect my full $544 weekly unemployment check at the same time.
    The funny part is, they had the biggest football-type of a manager walk me down to HR. They must have thought I was going to flip out or something (or maybe that's who did it with everyone). Anyway, at the end, the HR rep kind of coos to me "I know this is distressing, but you'll get thru it." I looked at her and said, "Susan, you just gave me the Summer, the Fall, and the Winter off with pay. I ain't THAT upset." And I really wasn't. Like I said, it was the middle of May. I enjoyed collecting about 177% of my pay for 6 months, and then 107% for another 5.

    Edit: Another funny part. At the end of the meeting, the HR rep asks for my id card. I ask "won't I need it for the next two weeks?" She said, "Oh, the two week thing is just a formality. We don't expect you to work it. You'll be paid your full salary for these two weeks before your severance kicks in." Well, OK by me. ;-)
    MGP2
    • Great

      A joy to read. This is how it should be.
      nizuse
  • The Sprint methods

    1) First thing in the morning, people are divided
    into 2 groups. One group is shown the door and told
    their belongings will be sent to them, the other group
    stays.

    2) One of your fifty emails in the morning is the
    layoff.

    3) Your security card won't get you in the door.

    4) Right out of the blue, a couple of security people
    come and show you the door without letting you take
    your belongings. Your supervisor, who has not been
    laid off, does not come too.
    Taz_z
    • The Cowards Way Out!

      I have to say that #4 is the cowards way out...

      What makes a supervisor so afraid of having to lay someone off? If he is not capable of facing the departing person he isn't *really* supervisory personnel!

      Second, when the super doesn't show up there is no way a "mere" security person can tell what can go with the employee and what can't...

      Try ushering *me* out the door without my personal belongings!

      That's a sure way to get a *real* *visible* layoff experience for all to see...

      Let em handcuff me... Abuse me for all to see!

      Even more so if all my peers know I've done my job well...

      (If this really is the Sprint "way"... They won't ever get my bsuiness!)

      Mike Sr.
      • These methods have all been used at Sprint

        I live in the city of Sprint's corp headquarters,
        which by the way, has relatively poor Sprint cell
        coverage. Sprint generally violates all 7 of Deb's
        lessons. Have you noticed how many customers Sprint
        has bled over the past year and remember some of their
        customer service policies, like working to get rid of
        roamers and people who made [i]too many service
        calls[/i]? They abuse their customers as bad as their
        employees. Have you heard about seeing how a company
        treats their employees before doing business with
        them? I don't have to make this up, it's documented
        in news articles and blogs everywhere.
        Taz_z
  • RE: Is there a better way to be handed a pink slip?

    There is no universally-acceptable method. When terminations occur, people who have the power to decide choose to preserve themselves at the expense of those without such power. While there are indeed some unavoidable circumstances, it's far more likely that poor planning, execution, and risk management left no choice but such a draconian response.

    Here's how one company I worked for did it:

    1) The night before, a manager calls the supervisors who will do the firing and says the decisions have been made.

    2) An HR representative runs around the building delivering bundles of manila envelopes to supervisors who have staff to fire that day. Termination time is usually around 10AM.

    3) Terminated employees must give the supervisor their company credit card, access card, and immediately stop using the company computer. They can stay the day or go home as they see fit.

    4) Employees who are not terminated attend an "All-Hands" meeting and are told the layoff is behind us; now we can succeed; it's terrible - we hate doing it, but to save the body the limb had to be amputated.

    There is one round, usually one or less per triggering event (downturn, acquisition, competitive situation). Severance has usually been made available. Preserving productivity of the people remaining is the focus. It's pretty much what was recommended but it tore down morale something fierce anyway.
    Mt#tAxdtI7Rir