February 22, 2010

On the Firing of a Co-Worker

A co-worker was "let go," in the current parlance. It was especially painful given his age (50-ish), though that's not an uncommon occurrence these days. The era when employees held the whip hand has long past - the owner/labor equilibrium is seldom in perfect balance and tends to swing from one side to the other. The abuses of unions led, understandably, to their peril. Now business feels its oats. (In my more negative moments, the employer-employee thing seems akin to the human race's battle with microbes. You try to stay ahead of a mutating fungus. Corporate leaders mutate and I sense that now that unions have loss most of their power it's carried over to non-union shops.)

What was different this time was said employee was fired by someone three levels above him. That seems to be a new corporate fad - don't trust the managers or supervisors below you, and have everyone interview for their job when a new boss comes to town which, lately, seems like every six months. I've interviewed with my great-great grand boss, my grandboss, my great grand boss and the thrill is wearing off. It was cute the first few times - oh, he wants to get to know us! How ... refreshing!

As a long-time observer of corporate fads (see my URL), I have to say this is one of the more effective. This one has some staying power. Every guy or gal who comes to town for his year or two gig wants to interview every person in the department, mainly for re-organization purposes. By definition, a "change agent" needs to come in and change things, whether needed it or not. And change is the biggest fad of all, understandably so. As is often said, we live in a constantly changing economic world.

With the latest interview/"chat", the new chief mentioned that he has an open door policy, but I find it hard to see a circumstance where I'm going to go over the head of my boss and my boss's boss. Some of this appears to be window-dressing, as evidenced by how these meetings tend to get rescheduled two or three times as more pressing items come up.

Okay I'll quit my whining...


Steven Riddle said...

Dear TSO,

Yes, exceedingly uncomfortable doesn't begin to say it, does it? And oh, that isn't even the beginning of all the wonders that management unchained can unleash. And speaking from that side of the fence, I can't say I'm entirely comfortable with my place. Because when the uber-uber-uber boss doesn't do it, they simply pass the buck down to my level with neither explanation nor consolation. So even when your boss let's you go--it may not be his choice. I speak as one who knows. (But also as one who has yet to really face that ultimate terrible challenge--only as one who has been extremely close along the sidelines.)



TS said...

So true, in the old days firings seemed to be initiated by the direct boss but now even direct bosses are not in charge. It's a sort of new randomness to firings, or so it seems. The economic climate being what it is I guess I shouldn't be surprised.