The Ugly Business of Firing
• The night of Nov. 30, employees at Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceuticals, the world's fourth-biggest drug maker, received an email from the company wishing them a happy Thanksgiving and telling them to check their email again at 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 2. A.R., a Sanofi-Aventis sales representative in California who wished to remain anonymous, as her contract forbids publicly disparaging the company, said she and her coworkers each received one of the two mass emails the company sent out that Tuesday morning. Both emails contained a code, an 800-number and a call time, either 8:00 a.m. or 8:30 a.m. The employees who were instructed to call in at the earlier time were told they could keep their jobs, but the 1,700 employees who called in at 8:30 a.m. weren't so lucky: They were laid off by an anonymous voice that told them to stop working immediately, and had no opportunity for question or comment. —Huffington Post
• Chicago Sun-Times restaurant critic Pat Bruno, 68, isn't happy that he was pink-slipped via a phone call from a mid-level editor after decades with the tabloid. "I've known (publisher) John Barron for 28 years," he says. "All he had to do is pick up the phone and tell me himself. He didn't have the balls to do that. I wasn't expecting roses at my feet, just a phone call from someone who appreciated what I did all these years." —Jim Romenesko, poynter.org
Takeaways to Consider
- "How to Fire Someone Compassionately" by Jada A. Graves, usnews.com:
—DON'T fire someone on a Friday.
—DO the deed on a Tuesday.
—DON'T tell remaining staff by scheduling a meeting after the fact.
—DO tell some staff on a need-to-know basis before the fact.
—DON'T wing it. Consult with HR and perhaps also with your company's lawyer to script what you may say and what you absolutely shouldn't.
—DO put it in writing.
—DON'T perp walk them out of the building.
—DO offer some dignity and privacy, if possible.
—DON'T go into hiding. It's neither mature nor professional to avoid the person in the awkward aftermath.
—DO offer help.