(updated 12/28/2007 – I couldn’t resist the P.S. in the letter )
This time of year always baffles me – we have record-breaking signups starting around Christmas going through February. I wonder if it’s because people take time to think about their careers, how last year went (the promotion or raise they didn’t get), how they want next year to be, etc.
I know part of it is because companies are readjusting. Downsizing, rightsizing, all that stuff. I tend to think it comes down to poor management and leadership, overambitious hiring, missed sales targets, or excitement about cost savings by offshoring.
In the last three weeks I learned of five people who’s jobs have pretty much went away. Two were professionals at WAMU, two were professionals somewhere else, and on Christmas I learned my uncle finally got the Kodak ax. Over the years he has watched thousands of coworkers get laid off, and now it finally hit him. These are just my personal contacts, I know there are thousands and thousands of professionals who got their own special pink slip this season. Humbug.
In light of that, I figured I’d issue you your own pink slip! Since I don’t have HR behind me to take all the personal caring out of it (er, I mean, to make sure we don’t say anything you could sue us over), I’ll do it in my own Jason Alba style. Rip open the envelope to find the following letter, just for you!
Dear Employee # 3352899238,
What a terrific year we’ve had at Acme Widget Company! The team has really pulled together and we expect it to be the best year yet! Here are some of our accomplishments:
- We successfully installed our new accounting system – thanks to IT, Finance and Accounting, who worked extra overtime for six months to make this a seamless transition! You will each receive an extra turkey with your customary Christmas ham.
- We finally updated our Policy and Procedure manual – this significant overhaul brings us up to date and current with industry standards, and compliant with federal regulations. Not the most exciting accomplishment of the year, but we recognize the thousands of hours that went into this project, and we wish to express a hearty thank-you to all of our administrative team who greatly contributed (sorry, no extra turkey for you since this did not have an impact on our profit).
- We closed deals with four new customers, which guarantees 2008 revenue and profit growth to exceed 60% of our targets – thank you to our sales team who went above and beyond (and sorry to Joe, who lost his family due to the strenuous work conditions)
- We maintained 94% customer retention, inspite of that Great Product Glitch last spring – our customer service team really saved our hides after we realized problems with some vendors. Their quick thinking and excellent response to customer issues kept us out of legal hot water and helped us keep almost all of our contracts intact – we’ll have an end-of-year party in the cafeteria just for you next Thursday (it’s potluck).
- We finally established our offshore office, and will begin operations on January 1 – this will result in saving millions of dollars, again, contributing to a very strong 2008!
We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to you as we realize you made a significant impact during 2007.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances that we cannot control, and our new strategy to move professional positions to lower-wage countries, we are terminating your position. This is not a reflection on your performance and we hope that in the future you would consider re-employment with Acme.
Happy new year!
Your management team, where “open door” is our #1 policy!
P.S. We will be unavailable through January 7th, as we will be in Hawaii for our Executive Retreat (luckily we get to take our families with us this year!). Happy New Year!
I’m not against off-shoring. I’m not against companies adjusting their resources so they can operate in a healthy state. I’m almost not against really stupid management and leadership (unless I have to work for a really stupid manager or leader). I realize that this stuff happens, and whining and complaining about “the system” isn’t going to fix it, as the world gets flatter, and competition is so stiff!
I’ll tell you what I am against. And it’s new since I got laid off last year.
I’m against thinking my company is going to care about my career, and take care of me like they took care of my dad and father-in-law. I’m against thinking HR has MY best interest at heart, and even has the power to make my career what it could be. I’m against the idea that we can be passive about our careers.
There’s no better time to think about Me, Inc. Sit down, strategize, pull your board together (close family, mentors, etc.), and figure out what you are going to do in 2008 to make sure Me, Inc. is successful for 2008 and beyond!