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Worst ways to get fired

Here are some of the worst ways to be fired.

There are some interesting points to be made here but here is the meat of the criticism:

Strategy 1: It can be extremely taxing to ruin people’s day face to face, so create a little breathing room.

Besides e-mail, companies have been known to fire people by FedEx, registered letter, text message, voice mail and conference call.

Strategy 2: Consider the cattle call. It can build team spirit.

One company herded employees into an auditorium and gave them one of two color-coded information packets. Those with the same color packets sat together. The two groups were then escorted out of the auditorium through different exits. One led back to the office, which meant that group of employees could stay. The other led to the street, which meant the workers should file for unemployment.

Strategy 3: There is no such thing as “too low.” So don’t be afraid to test bottom. One option is to let employees figure things out for themselves.

One company deliberately left a new organizational chart on the photocopy machines. Some employees were left off entirely, and others were moved to new positions.

Strategy 4: Remember, no one is ever too old to play musical chairs.

Some companies in the middle of a merger have asked all employees to resign and reapply for jobs. The goal: to disengage from the old and reinvent the organizational structure — with fewer employees.

Strategy 5: It can be a nice touch when you offer the newly fired a ride home.

It actually can be, unless you’ve organized the corporate equivalent of a funeral procession. One company had cabs lined up around the block before alerting employees on the layoff list of their new jobless status.

Strategy 6: You know what they say: it’s always the quiet ones.So make sure the meek don’t go ballistic.

During a layoff, it’s perfectly reasonable for a company to want to protect its computer files, other property and the remaining employees. But bringing in armed guards, as some companies have done, can be completely dehumanizing. An inconspicuously placed plainclothes security person is far preferable, said Lee Miller, a negotiations expert who used to run HR divisions at three companies.

Obviously most of these companies were misdirected in their ideas of how to do a layoff correctly. There are three easy steps to do a layoff correctly:

  1. Don’t put it off. Whenever layoffs are on the table as the option you are going to be taking, just do it. Don’t wait for business to possibly improve. Layoffs are bad but you can prevent more by making your business much more competitive by doing layoffs earlier and reducing future layoffs.
  2. Take responsibility. Have executive management there to take responsibility in person for the end result. Apologize and offer a fair package to help move on.
  3. Be sensitive. Allow employees to gather belongings and say goodbye to those who are staying. Regroup with the remaining employees and talk to them about the layoffs and concerns they have. It is critical that you don’t shut off the remaining employees from the layoff process. Your future productivity and turnover is dependent on it.

And while layoffs are one of the most heart-wrenching parts of the business, good things can come from them for both the employer and employee.

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How to get fired gracefully

Chances are, at one point of your working life or another, you’re going to get canned. I feel bad to be breaking the news to you but in the world of higher turnover and rapidly changing demand, the American employee is more expendable than ever (as long as “ever” means before 1940). Expendability aside, we should all be preparing for the worst. A downturn in business, a relocation, outsourcing, a bad personal decision…the list goes on. You should be ready to seek a job tomorrow. But that is a post for another day…

One way to not get fired gracefully is to make a big scene. It is really easy to lose it at that moment. You are thinking about everything that is going to change and hopefully you have an HR guy who prepares you and emphatically explains how to go about picking up your final check, belongings, filing for COBRA and maybe even giving you resources for with the unemployment office. I’ve had people getting fired (either being laid off or being fired for performance or misconduct issues) punch a supervisor in the face, flip off the entire office, throw a chair, scream, cry and not say anything at all.

To say it lightly, we’ve seen it all. And frankly, HR guys are unimpressed with this sort of bullshit. You might be pissed but your HR guy is likely going to be pissed for you. It is true. Even getting fired for all but the worst misconduct can be smoothed over by an understanding and apologetic employee. In those situations, I am much more likely to pass your future employer asking for a professional reference to a co-worker who liked you as opposed to the supervisor who now hates you because of his black eye. An employee who throws a fit is likely to get no sympathy and as soon as I get the reference release from your future employer, don’t think that I am not going to let them know every factual detail.

In short, don’t be stupid when fired. Take it calmly, be apologetic, ask all the questions you need and pack your stuff. Your future employability depends on it.