Can you believe a 120-person British company decided to terminate one of its employees by a text message? Blue Banana, a body-piercing and jewelry shop based in Cardiff, England, alerted 21-year-old Katy Tanner that she had been sacked via a text message while (or, shall I say whilst?) she was home sick with a migraine. The text message said simply: "We will not require your services anymore. Thank you for your time with us."
Nice. Very nice. Blue Banana Director Jon Taylor said the firm had tried to reach Ms. Tanner "…five or six times" before sending the text message. And, store Director Ian Besbie justified the inhumane corporate behavior because texting has become part of "…youth culture."
Messrs. Taylor and Besbie should be ashamed of their cowardly actions. Regardless of the role of text messaging in youth culture, human beings deserve the courtesy of an in-person explanation when they’re being terminated.
Sad to say, though, I’ll bet this "execution by technology" is not an isolated incident. In fact, we’ve been alerted twice in the past year that we’d not won new business pitches by impersonal "form letter" e-mails. In each case, the prospective client praised the time and effort we’d extended in pursuing their business. In each instance, the prospective client offered to make themselves available to provide in-depth feedback on why we hadn’t been selected. And, in each instance, we were unable to ever connect with the prospect to hear, first-hand, why we’d lost.
Bad manners reflect poorly on not only the individual, but the entire organization. And, if the latter gets a reputation for being cold and impersonal in the way in which it deals with employees, "vendors" and others, then it will find it more difficult to attract and retain the best people and the best customers. Because, in the final analysis, people want to work with people they like and respect. Use of text messaging and e-mail to communicate bad news is just plain bogus.