George and Mary-Lynn

The One Minute Manager and Corporate Layoffs

By Wynn Bigg
Bigg Success Contributer
03-11-08

Wynn Bigg Today

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I have a friend who was recently let go by a firm for who he had worked for nearly twenty years. He said that the entire conversation with his supervisor took less than a minute.

To clarify the situation, he was one of twenty or so people who lost his job that day at the local branch of a large company. This scenario was repeated over and over again at all the branches of that company as they responded to lower quarterly earnings.

So here’s my first question –

Why do corporations treat humans inhumanely?
In most businesses, people are the most precious asset. So why do corporations act like they’re not. And let’s be clear here – corporations don’t do anything. They can’t. It’s humans who treat humans like this.

It’s the managers within those companies who are doing this. It’s probably their managers, or their manager’s manager, who insists it be done.

Managers within companies are being asked to do more and more with less and less. So some people get laid off. In many, if not most cases, they’re good employees who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

They’re reasonable people who can understand that sometimes tough choices have to be made. They’ve cared for their employer; they expect their employer to give them the same respect.

Which leads to my next question –

Why do companies burn bridges?
We’re told from a young age that we shouldn’t burn bridges. We get upset when our employees fail to give us notice. We think we deserve that much respect.

Don’t they deserve respect too? I’ve always believed that once I made a decision that involved my employees, I owed it to them to fill them in as soon as possible. I understand that sometimes there are justifiable reasons to do otherwise. But I defaulted to sooner, rather than later.

Having said that, I also believe that you have to understand the bigg picture. These employees you’re letting go today may be your best candidates tomorrow – if you handle it properly.

These people may be customers, too. They may know people who are your customers. What are you doing to your reputation when you show no respect for your employees?

And what are you saying to the employees who remain? Aren’t you saying that people don’t matter? That the only thing that’s important is this quarter’s earnings?

Give them the respect they deserve
Does an employee who’s been with a company for nearly twenty years deserve more than a minute from his manager when he gets laid off? I think so!

I think he deserved a conversation at least twenty times that long! How about a minute for every year he devoted? Is that asking too much? I don’t think so!

I think he deserved a complete explanation about what was going on and why his position was being eliminated.

I think he deserved to be reassured that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

I think he deserved to know if it was possible that his position would be available again if the company turned things around.

I think he deserved his manager’s best guess about the likelihood of that happening.

I think he deserved to know what resources were available to him to find another job or career, even if the company wasn’t willing to pay for it.

I think he deserved a written letter of recommendation that he could use to find that next position.

I think he deserved to be thanked for all that he had done.

I think he deserved to be treated like a human being!

Believe me, I understand that managing is a tough job. But don’t make it tougher by treating people inhumanely and burning bridges. Give them the respect they deserve. Otherwise, you’ll lose more in the long run, as a manager and as a human being. Oh, and one more thing, your company will lose even more than you do.

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