So tomorrow morning I have to fire 4 people

Another real world impact of this crappy economy. Tomorrow morning I have to call 4 people in and fire them. Not a one of them has a reason to believe that they would go into this holiday season without a job, in the middle of a horrible time to look for a job (most companies in our industry and related industries are either freezing hires or laying off) and due to the nature of the work, they will all likely have to move to find new work. Which means trying to sell a house in this market.

Happening across the company, most areas are being forced to cut about 20%. I already chose not to rehire 3 people earlier in the year in anticipation of this, otherwise I’d have to fire 3 more.

No matter how many times I’ve done this, I don’t sleep for about a week before the morning in which I have to call them in and turn their lives upside down. I didn’t know myself if I was going to be in the number of those being let go until Friday and I was in a cold sweat.

Screw 50 Billion dollars - give us a $10 million dollar bailout and I won’t have to ruin these people’s lives (and nor will my peers who are letting others go in the company in the morning.)

And I know that most days this is happening in companies all across the country. Screw AIG and the other similar companies and all the lying scheming SOBs who got us in this, and Congress for their oversight committees who provided zero oversight.

That really sucks. I’ve released people before, and it’s not at all fun, especially when they don’t deserve it.

But Congress provided exactly the amount of oversight that conservatives wanted.

I am SO glad I am not in a position to fire people per se. As a professor, I might have a say in tenure and hiring at particular times, but never a layoff of this sort. That really stinks, and I’m sorry you have to do it, Jeff. But I’m even more sorry for the people who are losing their jobs over something that really isn’t their fault.

My sympathies. I’ve never had to do something like this but I have had to be the bearer of bad news and this is obviously very, very bad. Good luck.

Interestingly enough, a guy on Fox (Shephard Smith) actually suggested that instead of giving the auto makers a bailout, Congress should hold the money for those who lose their jobs and keep them afloat while they retrain.

We live in interesting times. And I’m also glad I’m not responsible for firing anyone right now.

Not that it is any consolation to you, but a real eye opening moment for me was when I asked to begin a client’s contractual preparations for a plant closure that the factory management itself did not know was going to be closed, this was a decision from the corporate office.

And when asked, by a naively ballsy coworker, about the general health of the company across all plants the response was a heartful and earnest reply along the lines of “Nobody wants to make these jobs go away, but if we don’t stop losing money at the PA plant, then that puts all the employees in VA, NY, TX etc at risk”

So by way of rationalization, letting these four go now can prevent all ten (20?, 30?) people in your division from being let go in Q4 2009.

You are doing those people a good turn.

If you knew a week ago, why not tell them then? An extra week to look could help.

Neither side did squat.

We made the final people decisions around Monday, though we had the numbers we had to hit a couple of weeks ago, just had to play the death angel and pick who. Our HR people have been working until about 2:00 AM putting together the separation packages, i.e. severance cash, insurance info, placement help services, and all the legal stuff that has to go into a workplace reduction/job elimination packet (e.g. demographics of who was let go vs. those who were not, etc.)

Believe me, we all wanted to finish this as early as possible. Rumors start and all week my entire lab has been watching me - people trying to get a clue as to whether they are safe or not by how I talk to them, etc. Everyone is scared to death. It sucks, I’ve had to go through this more than a couple of times in the 25 years I’ve been doing this and it never sucks less. I had a guy sitting in my office this afternoon talking about a customer and plans for improving the product we provide them, and I’m sure he was trying to read everything he could as to whether he was one of the 4.

He is.

I need a different line of work - after so long in this competitive business world rat race, I’m just weary.

Because part of being in the position to have to be the guy to tell people it’s time is to know about it beforehand, almost always. I’ve been in the same position, and watching people plug away knowing they might as well not really, really sucks.

That doesn’t mean you don’t give notice (we managed to give our guys 2-3 weeks to find work before “officially” being laid off and drawing severance) but that inevitably you will know before you do, simply because these things have to be planned out.

Are there liability issues with giving people a heads up as soon as you know? It seems the right thing to do, even if you haven’t gotten everything planned yet.

Well, if you’re really an asshole, you want every last ounce of effort out of them on the job. If they know early, they may slack off early. Also, if you could be worried about theft and their attitude during that time.

is that you have to trust that the person you are letting go doesn’t tell anyone that they are. The reason why is that usually layoffs come in waves, and by letting 1 person know, they may let others know that layoffs are coming with certainty, and this can have a overall demoralizing effect on the staff. Other people on other teams will start asking if they’re on the hit list, and basically be unproductive until the layoffs happen.


Attitudes on this tend to vary wildly depending upon the industry. It is fairly common for developers and IT people to not only be kept in the dark as long as possible but also to be escorted out the door on the day of the layoffs because companies are so paranoid they’re going to do something like code a backdoor into the system in their last days or whatever.

Yep, been there before (firing people) and looks like will have to again sooner rather than later. Not fun. I am also deliberately a few people short

No, you don’t give people a heads up on being fired. The legal ducks need to be in a row, there might be a last minute change, plus the security issues. And they themselves may be having to decide which of their subordinates to fire - and it is a stone cold person who can get that decision right, if they’ve been told themselves they are chopped

Though if someone I knew was being chopped came in and asked advice on taking another job offer or staying, I would encourage them strongly to take the offer.

I don’t get that.

I figure anyone with the personality to code in a back door after being fired is the kind of person who’d code in back doors long before being fired.

Jeff - I’ve been in that position and agree that it’s one of the worst things a manager can do. I’ve also been in the position of being let go at a previous employer, so know the other side as well.

Sorry to hear you have to go through this.

It does suck, but it sucks because you care. That means you can do it in the best, most supportive, kind, and (dare I say it) loving way possible, and in the way that’s best for them.

Well put. If you were a crap boss or just focussed on the bottom line and nothing else, this wouldn’t bother you as much.

That probably means you do as much for these people as possible and were as carefull as possible when making your pick - there’s not really much else you can do.

We said goodbye to a nice colleague today and her boss really tried hard to find a position elsewhere in the company - I’m just happy that I get a say in who we hire asnd which freelancers we use… but layoffs isn’t my responsibility.

Fridays are awful.