#292: Getting Fired Began With Adam and Eve, But It Still Hurts

(Why is it that some companies are firing workers while other companies are still scrambling to find workers? Because workers are the variable bits and pieces that managers must manipulate in the name of work-flow tuning to enable executives to massage short-term profits to please stock analysts who have never even managed a company.)


I am a member of a select club. The club of those who were fired by cowardly email. (It’s a rapidly growing club. But so is the fired-by-bulk-text-message club. And the fired-by-group-video club. Never mind the burgeoning wimpy manager club.)

I joined the club some time ago. But every time I read a headline shouting “Company X has fired Y number of employees”, it all comes back to me. Admittedly, it was only a local radio station who fired me. After 10 years they no longer wanted my twice-weekly Nonsense At Work radio pieces. Even so, it hurt.

Why the hurt? After all, people have been fired ever since Adam and Eve were kicked out of that garden. I’ll tell you why. Because they said goodbye to me before I did to them, that’s why. It’s like that girl who broke my heart because she broke up with me before I could break up with her.

Goodbye only hurts when we are not ready to go.

My first break-up happened for one of three reasons. She no longer needed me. I did something wrong to upset her. A better hunk rode into town.

When the radio station fired me, they said that their new programming meant they no longer needed me. Adam and Eve got kicked out because they did something their boss apparently did not like. As for that girl in my past, I know which reason applied to me. Which is why it still hurts, even though I don’t remember her clearly.

Unlike that girl, managers won’t tell you they have found someone better. (It’s too risky, legally speaking.) But why should they? Blaming job restructuring or reprogramming or inflation or the economy get you gone with less embarrassment. And looks so much more managerial in an email.

Want to know a secret? Layoffs are never really management’s fault. Unless you are Akio Morita, the co-founder of Sony: “If we face a recession, we should not lay off employees; the company should sacrifice a profit. It’s management’s risk and management’s responsibility. Employees are not guilty; why should they suffer?”

(I cannot remember the source of the quote. I read it in the 1980s. Possibly in Harvard Business Review or a similar business magazine. But like many shocking truths, I still remember it.)

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.