Imagine you’ve just been laid off. Now imagine your erstwhile employer, in its infinite wisdom, has included a list of 101 tips to save money alongside the pink slip.
Among the pearls of wisdom passed along in the tip sheet were:
1. "rent out a room or garage"
2. "shop in thrift stores"
3. "bicycle to work"
And my personal favorite:
4. "don’t be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash"
Talk about setting realistic expectations! Could you imagine receiving a list of "helpful" tips like this? It would make me feel like I was one step away from becoming a street person.
I never cease to be amazed how badly organizations and their human resources executives muck-up their downsizings. Did this particular corporation really think its ex-employees would appreciate being told to shop in thrift stores, bicycle to work and pick their way through garbage?
Handling a downsizing should be a carefully considered, closely managed communications exercise. In fact, the best organizations ordinarily go to great pains to express caring and concern to downsized employees, their families, the local communities affected by the firings, customers, and every other constituent audience (except, perhaps, the Street, which usually cheers any example of cold-hearted, numbers-focused actions on the part of a public company’s management).
It shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn that the offending organization in this case was Northwest Airlines, which routinely ranks among the worst airlines (hence the nickname, "Northworst") and is legendary for its horrific customer service (so, why should they be expected to treat employees any differently?).
So, here’s hoping that downsized Northworst airlines employees rummage through their neighborhood trash cans, pick out the nastiest objects they can find and forward said contents to the airline’s chief executive officer. Maybe that will get his attention. Or, maybe fearing his own imminent downsizing by the board, Northworst’s CEO may find a few things he likes in the incoming trash and hang onto them for the future.