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Most Companies Let People Go without Ever Saying 'You're Fired'
The Seattle Times ^ | Wednesday, March 24, 2004 | Shirleen Holt

Posted on 03/24/2004 11:48:00 AM PST by Willie Green

For education and discussion only. Not for commercial use.

Mar. 24 - Every Thursday, millions tune in to watch Donald Trump squint, purse his lips, and with a swoop of a stubby finger, utter the catch phrase of the day: "You're fired!"

The words that punctuate each episode of "The Apprentice" TV show are unambiguous, blunt and final.

They're also largely fiction.

Fear of lawsuits has made the fantasy firing mostly obsolete. Trump himself, hardly Mr. Sensitivity, says he rarely uses the term in real life, although he told Newsday he finds it "succinct and beautiful."

Instead, many companies have adopted more surreptitious ways to get rid of unwanted employees. Human-resources experts call it "managing out," a way to nudge an employee out the door while also minimizing legal exposure. Sometimes, it involves making a worker's job so miserable he'll quit; other times, it may mean building an airtight cause for a firing -- even if the cause is bogus.

Is your job in jeopardy?

Your office was moved to a storage closet. You've gotten stuck with the worst assignments. Your boss avoids eye contact. You've just received a stunningly bad performance review.

You're probably on your way out, says Cynthia Shapiro, a Seattle consultant and former human-resources executive. She knows the tactics because she used them. Now she counsels employees on how to recognize if they're targeted for removal.

Some employees are at greater risk.

"Layoffs provide a safe forum for cleaning house without fear of exposure," Shapiro says. "For most companies, that's too tempting to pass up."

Here are some reasons you may be targeted:

You're a troublemaker

You've talked badly about the company, are hard to work with, have a bad relationship with your boss or simply don't fit in.

You're dispensable

Companies usually have a secret list of employees they wouldn't mind losing, as well as a list of those who are indispensable. In the case of a layoff, "If your boss hasn't pulled you aside to put your mind at ease, you are not safe," Shapiro says.

You're expensive

Perhaps you earn too much, filed a workers' compensation claim or had a medical or disability leave within the past year. Retaliatory firings are illegal, but "many times, layoff lists include employees who have cost the company money," Shapiro says.

In her 13 years as a human-resources executive and consultant in San Francisco and Seattle, Cynthia Shapiro has pushed out unwanted employees using a string of methods: setting impossible goals, giving problem workers the clients no one else wants, taking them off a project they love, or surprising them with a bad performance review.

Most of the time they quit, never knowing that their exit was orchestrated.

"It's an art form, really," Shapiro says matter-of-factly.

She helped move out one employee, a hardworking guy liked by his co-workers but not his supervisor, by arranging a business trip on the day he was to compete in a surfing contest.

"He threw a fit, and we were able to let him go for insubordination."

She forced out another, a talented woman who bad-mouthed the boss to a client, by giving her the worst assignments and cutting her budget.

Things aren't what they seem

On the surface, managing out can look like a normal disciplinary action. In both, employees are told they need to improve by a set date or face consequences. But while a straightforward correction plan, which often involves extra training or even mentoring, is designed to help the employee keep his job, surreptitious managing out ensures that he won't.

Consider the case of Earl Strei, a 57-year-old pharmaceutical salesman from Bellevue.

In the early 1990s, Strei was running the Northwest territory for a subsidiary of Illinois-based Baxter Healthcare. The local economy was in a slump; customers weren't buying. His new bosses -- he'd had a lot of them over his nearly 30-year career -- weren't interested in why sales were slow.

They placed him on what was euphemistically known as a "performance program." Company insiders called it the kiss of death, since it included workloads and sales quotas that were impossible to meet. It was a systematic way of eliminating unwanted workers, according to employee affidavits filed in federal court in Seattle.

"(Baxter) used the performance program as an excuse to terminate people," Darlene Fournier, a top saleswoman, said in court papers. She resigned rather than go through the program. "It was totally unrelated to performance."

Strei, ever the optimist, figured if he worked hard enough, he could meet his quotas. Over two months, the pressure from his supervisors mounted. They scrutinized his expense reports and insisted on knowing his whereabouts. They wanted guarantees on future sales. Strei said some of his loyal customers helped by buying more, but it wasn't enough.

On Jan. 11, 1994, his bosses summoned him to a room at the Sea-Tac Marriott. They told him he'd failed to meet his quota, so the company was letting him go.

"I said, 'Is there a severance package?' They said, 'No." I turned and left the room. I just walked away."

In the cab ride home -- he had to leave his company car at the hotel -- Strei's pain and anger boiled.

"I was a good guy, and they'd done me wrong. It was terrible, shabby, unpleasant."

The supervisors' strategy ultimately backfired; Strei sued Baxter Healthcare for age discrimination and eventually won a large sum. Baxter declined to comment for this story.

But Shapiro says managing out is a successful tactic when done skillfully.

One of her clients, a combative young construction manager, had no idea why his employer moved his workstation into the hallway. But he knew he didn't feel valued, and he was angry enough to quit.

"They didn't want him to get his work done," she says. "They didn't want him to feel comfortable."

Then there was the gossipy young sales rep who was frustrated when her employer began piling work on her. She assumed she was being tested to see if she could handle more responsibility. In truth, her supervisors thought that her negativity would infect the company culture, and they were setting her up to fail. After a bad performance review, she quit.

"If you're a company trying to avoid unemployment benefits or a severance payment, I suppose you would do it that way," says Janice Clusserath, a former human-resources executive from Redmond. "But a company that's reputable and cares about its employees wouldn't do that."

Instead, the employer typically explains where the worker is failing and sets up a probation program that may include more job training and coaching. If he hasn't improved within a set time, he's terminated.

"I've never, ever said, 'You're fired," " Clusserath says.

In theory "managing out," whether straightforward or sneaky, isn't even necessary.

Like most of the country, Washington is an at-will employment state. This means companies don't need a reason to fire someone who isn't protected by Civil Rights laws, certain state statutes or employment contracts.

"You can be fired if the boss doesn't like your shoelaces," says Kelby Fletcher, a Seattle lawyer who represents workers in employment cases. "I get a lot of calls from people who lose their jobs. Most of the time, there's not a whole lot you can do."

But few want to risk a successful discrimination case, which brings a median award of $200,000 and possibly much more, according to Jury Verdict Research. Thus, workplace discrimination suits have increased more than 2,000 percent since 1970, according to lawyer Steven Sack, the aptly named author of "Getting Fired." They account for a fifth of all civil suits filed in the United States.

"Companies are scared to death to tell employees the truth," Shapiro says. "If you give employees a little bit of ammunition, they're going to run to the nearest lawyer."

This is one reason the magic phrase "you're fired" is so rare.

In many cases, claims are filed not because the worker was fired, but because of how the worker was fired.

The aim is to avoid hurt feelings, something Trump doesn't worry about as the shamed contestants drag their suitcases out of his building in tears.

"How you treat them as they're walking out the door will determine if any litigation will follow," says Clusserath.

That was certainly the case with Strei, the pharmaceutical salesman for Baxter Healthcare.

"They didn't respect me. I was just almost disposable."

After co-workers, customers and even Baxter's former vice president of HR testified on his behalf, U.S. District Court Judge Jack Tanner awarded Strei $1.2 million for lost wages and punitive damages.

Strei is 68 today and lives in La Quinta, Calif., with his wife, Barbara. Despite living in comfort near sun-washed golf courses, he is still pained by the firing.

Recalling the cab ride home 10 years ago, thinking of how he'd break the news to his wife, picturing his grim-faced bosses in their suits, Strei begins to sob.

"If they had respected me and my customers, if they had given me a lunch and a gold watch, there wouldn't have been a lawsuit."

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE WRITING'S ON THE WALL

Start looking for work

"It's always easier to find a job when you have one," Shapiro says. "Psychologically, companies are most interested in candidates other companies also want. If you're wrong and get another job offer, your company can always make a counter-offer to keep you. If you were right, you've just accomplished a seamless transition and saved your career momentum."

Make up with the boss

"A boss will never get rid of an employee who can make them successful," Shapiro says. "Do everything you can to make him or her look good. At the very least, you greatly increase your chances for a stellar reference."

Be a team player

"Companies equate being positive with success, so try to be as openly positive as possible. Being of service will make you look like the ideal, indispensable team player."


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: weasels; workplace; yourefired

1 posted on 03/24/2004 11:48:01 AM PST by Willie Green
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To: Willie Green
Trump is fried.
2 posted on 03/24/2004 11:49:31 AM PST by battlegearboat
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To: Willie Green
Your office was moved to a storage closet.

Or as my boss told me about our upcoming move that instead of my current large office I'll have "an office without doors." I was going to ask if they also call it "short walls" too.

Why companies go for cubes I have no idea. Can barely think with all the noise going on. Maybe I'll wrap it in sound proofing material. Note to self: remember to cut out an air hole.
3 posted on 03/24/2004 11:53:28 AM PST by lelio
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To: lelio
Better than a toilet stall...
4 posted on 03/24/2004 11:59:00 AM PST by kaktuskid
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To: Willie Green
This means companies don't need a reason to fire someone who isn't protected by Civil Rights laws, certain state statutes or employment contracts.

In other words, striaght white males under 55.

5 posted on 03/24/2004 12:00:09 PM PST by Hugin
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To: Willie Green
You're a troublemaker...You've talked badly about the company, are hard to work with, have a bad relationship with your boss or simply don't fit in...You're dispensable

All perfectly good reasons to terminate someone.

Companies usually have a secret list of employees they wouldn't mind losing, as well as a list of those who are indispensable.

This Shapiro lady is clearly a hack. I've consulted companies on such issues for as long as she has and have never encountered any such "list". Sure, managers know who wouldn't be missed if they never showed up again, but "secret lists" are for the tinfoil hat crowd.

My guess is this lady is a friend of the writer and wanted her name out there. "Consultants" need to put food on the table, too, you know.

I also love how she discusses "managing out" as an "art form". Please.

6 posted on 03/24/2004 12:00:46 PM PST by Mr. Bird
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To: battlegearboat
My opinion of Trump, he is an over priced PIMP. An now
Verizon is sticking it to their customers by using Trump
to advertise. Verizon the worst phone service, they sock
it to you at both ends, you get charge for calls you make
and you get charge for call that the other person makes.

7 posted on 03/24/2004 12:01:48 PM PST by rebapiper
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To: Mr. Bird
Read the book "Cubicle Warfare"
8 posted on 03/24/2004 12:03:45 PM PST by freebird5850 ("Tell the truth, there's less to remember!")
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To: kaktuskid
Yeah, but at least a toilet stall has a door.
9 posted on 03/24/2004 12:04:57 PM PST by IYAS9YAS (Go Fast, Turn Left!)
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To: Willie Green
Nearly 100 lines of 'you're screwed' but only 10 lines of nothing more than 'kiss up to your boss'. Whatever.
10 posted on 03/24/2004 12:05:05 PM PST by mtbopfuyn
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To: Hugin
This means companies don't need a reason to fire someone who isn't protected by Civil Rights laws, certain state statutes or employment contracts.

In other words, striaght white males under 55.

Darn. That was going to be my comment.

11 posted on 03/24/2004 12:07:50 PM PST by meowmeow
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To: Willie Green
There was an awful, lazy secretary at Mrs. Fierro's office who, after many years there, left to take a secretarial position at another similar company.

Within two weeks she was fired there, and her old job had already been filled.

We've always wondered if that whole thing had been orchestrated somehow.
12 posted on 03/24/2004 12:08:40 PM PST by martin_fierro (Lodi Idol)
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To: lelio
I have a Les Nessman-style office.

No walls, no door, just taped boundaries on the floor.
13 posted on 03/24/2004 12:09:58 PM PST by martin_fierro (Lodi Idol)
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To: Willie Green

Clue One that you've been fired.

14 posted on 03/24/2004 12:11:44 PM PST by martin_fierro (Lodi Idol)
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To: freebird5850
Or the book:

"Fugitive from the Cubicle Police - A Dilbert book"
15 posted on 03/24/2004 12:12:24 PM PST by Johnny Gage (God Bless our Military, God Bless President Bush, and GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!)
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To: martin_fierro
I have a great interior office. Anyone who wants to get at me has to pass through the Radiation Area around the x-ray machine. Not kidding.
16 posted on 03/24/2004 12:13:41 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Just once I'd like to get by on my looks.)
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To: Willie Green
Instructions on how to identify weasals.
17 posted on 03/24/2004 12:14:52 PM PST by glorgau
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To: Willie Green
had no idea why his employer moved his workstation into the hallway.

Can you hear the drums?

18 posted on 03/24/2004 12:19:17 PM PST by John123 (A proud member of the most crooked, you know, lying group you've ever seen)
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To: Tijeras_Slim

My boss told me this Executive Chair was a perk, but I'm not sure whether I believe him.

19 posted on 03/24/2004 12:22:42 PM PST by martin_fierro (Lodi Idol)
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To: martin_fierro
Looks like the cab of a pickup truck belonging to a supervisor I once filled with those things...
20 posted on 03/24/2004 12:23:21 PM PST by EUPHORIC (Right? Left? Read Ecclesiastes 10:2 for a definition. The Bible knows all about it!)
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To: martin_fierro
Atleast he knows what yer fulla. :)
21 posted on 03/24/2004 12:24:16 PM PST by Tijeras_Slim (Just once I'd like to get by on my looks.)
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To: Hugin
Actually, under 40, according to Federal age discrimination law.
22 posted on 03/24/2004 12:24:52 PM PST by proxy_user
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To: Willie Green
I grew alienated with my last job and began making plans to move to Las Vegas and start a new business and a new life. I took a lot of legitimate vacation time as I was moving back and forth over 3 months between NYC and Las Vegas. Of course, I kept my boss in the dark about my plans.

Just before I was about to go to Vegas for my last swing before I intended to resign, she called me into her office, all serious and menacing. She had been unhappy with my vacation time and the fact I was out of the office a lot, and the rest of her staff were in the dumps covering for me (of course, I dutifully covered for them on their vacations, but they were just feeling sorry for themselves).

Anyway, she had decided to put a good scare in me and put me on '3 Month Probation,' whatever that was, and she actually put together a 'rap sheet' on me listing my moral and professional infractions of my tenure there, which was laughable. As she listed the first 3 points on her list, I laughed at each one (they was literally 'you don't go to firm wide meetings,' and 'you called in sick the monday after your vacation 8 months ago' and other asinine stuff like that), I stopped her right there, told her that I was embarrassed for her that she would make a list like that and have the nerve to read it to me, knowing it was crap, and that she should be ashamed of herself. I also told her that I just had my year-end evaluation about 10 weeks before and I got all top marks, and she neglected to mention any of these infractions even though the first three items on her list all predated my last formal evaluation.

She was stunned and I took that opening to tell her that I quit and was moving to Las Vegas to start a new life, cause the job has been cramping my style for a while.

So I shocked her by quitting on the spot (which I intended to do anyway about 2 weeks later but I just figured 'what the hell, may as well do it now.') Anyway, when I told her to stop reading me her list, I did quickly ask 'hey do you have the time (so and so) and I snuck into your office and had sex on your desk on your list?' Her eyes bugged out and she had no idea if I was serious of joking. Hahaha!!!

She wasn't very bright, and pretty slow witted. She went on vacation as planned and when I came back, she called me in and yelled at me, running me out of town shortly thereafter, cutting the notice I gave her in 1/2 and kicking me out. She said she was withholding her reference for me and this would all be 'on my permanent record.' I actually burst out laughing when she said that and I laughed so hard and did the 'hand trembling - 'I'm soooo scared' thing, saying 'Oh no, not my permanent record!' she actually yelled at me to 'stop laughing!' I genuinely couldn't stop laughing. She was nearly in tears when I left her office!

She badmouthed me during my last week there, telling everyone she could that she 'asked me to leave' which was a lie, I had quit. Actually, I nailed her on that and she lost a lot of credibility - I had pics on my webspace of my new fully furnished and almost fully moved into las vegas apt. Her webof lies caught up with her and she lost a lot of face as it became clear I had started leaving 3 months prior, and she was just being bitter and petty.

Her dept predictably became more negative after I left - the workload increased significantly and her 2 other project manages both resigned (and neither leaving for jobs, just 'leaving') 3 months and 6 months after I left. Her dept was in shambles and she lost everyone's trust.

A good friend once asked me if I think she blames me for that 9 month swing of problems she had at work, and my official response is "I hope so! If it isn't my fault, I don't know whose fault it is!"

So I quit, was fired, was badmouthed, got the last laugh, whatever. None of it really matters much. It's the big secret that corporate america doesn't want anyone to know. None of it really matters very much.
23 posted on 03/24/2004 12:25:49 PM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: Hugin; meowmeow
actually straight whites males over 40 (ADEA).
24 posted on 03/24/2004 12:29:29 PM PST by kallisti
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To: Willie Green

25 posted on 03/24/2004 12:30:30 PM PST by Zack Attack
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To: Willie Green
Companies usually have a secret list of employees they wouldn't mind losing, as well as a list of those who are indispensable.

I believe these are called paired comparisons. They rate you against all other employee in your group/whatever, but in a pair. They are quite useful.

26 posted on 03/24/2004 12:30:59 PM PST by Fury
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To: Zack Attack
Uh, we’re gonna need to move you downstairs into Storage B.
27 posted on 03/24/2004 12:43:43 PM PST by KarlInOhio (Bill Clinton is the Neville Chamberlain of the War on Terror.)
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To: Willie Green
. . .and they take your red Swingline stapler away, that's a dead giveaway (g).

Even if they ARE no-talent *ss-clowns. . . .
28 posted on 03/24/2004 12:57:15 PM PST by Salgak (don't mind me: the orbital mind control lasers are making me write this. . .)
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To: sauropod
Food for thought.
29 posted on 03/24/2004 1:02:35 PM PST by Lil'freeper (By all that we hold dear on this good Earth I bid you stand, men of the West!)
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To: HitmanNY; Wneighbor
None of it really matters very much.

Thanks for that last line. I work for women like that, and am having a bad day. Your conclusion is the healthy dose of perspective I needed. :)

30 posted on 03/24/2004 1:07:36 PM PST by Lil'freeper (By all that we hold dear on this good Earth I bid you stand, men of the West!)
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To: Lil'freeper
As long as you are a stand up person, things work out. I worked in law in nyc for 8 years or so (1994-2002). There are numerous partners, senior admin, senior attorneys, junior attorneys, and support staff who liked me a lot.

There are more than a few who didn't. Oh well!

There is no lifelong branding - most HR people and employers realize that sometimes its the bosses who have the problems. If you have several credible people who can vouch for you in your work experience, that's all that matters. Even if you don't. it doesn't matter that much really. You can always get a job temping and work your way into a company even with a hideous track record.

Almost nobody has THAT bad a track record, though. Just have some credible people who will say you are a good, valuable fella. Then its the weight of a crabby boss (many of which HR know are incompetent or schemers) agaisnt the weight of 4 or 6 people who say 'Lil'freeper is a wonderful addition to a team.'

Like I said, none of it really matters very much, and it all works out. I went into business for myself, which is the best thing I ever did. No more crabby negative bosses playing favorites. They remain firmly in my past, living in a wonderful prison of their own making.

Things work out! ;-)
31 posted on 03/24/2004 1:26:54 PM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: HitmanNY
My last job was doing 3rd level tech support for a line of software from a large publicly traded software company (not MS).

They did these goofy 360 interviews every year where you are supposed to get 3 coworkers and 3 clients to submit anonymous reviews of you (clients rarely do, but employees have to). Your boss uses those as part of the information your review is based on.

Well, my boss asked me to do a 360 on her. I didn't trust it to be anonymous, so I went easy on her only offering some mild criticisms that wouldn't limit my career if it was known I said it.

The big shock when I got my review was that she totally trashed me as an employee, even though she admitted that our clients were very happy with my service to them and I'm easy to get along with in the same review. I was attacked for handling fewer cases than others with no recognition for the fact that I take the harder cases, and when a new case arrives it is assigned to one of us by the team leader. I also don't close a case then reopen it as a new case over and over to inflate my number (like a certain coworker does) and the number of cases has never been a metric used in evaluation before and nothing had ever been said to me about needing to increase it before.

There was no way to appeal the review other than to try and talk her into changing the review (pointless) but I was allowed to add my own statement on it to my record and I did that. Asking me to review her like that was a setup to prevent my retaliating with accusations against her.

My review was so bad that I was not eligible for the annual bonus and I thought that was part of the motivation. The dept. gets a bonus as a whole and she gets to decide how it is divided up (based on review results) but the bonus was canceled for everyone anyway later on since things had slowed down so much, so if that was her plan it was a failure.

I found out a month later that my team leader (who never got along with her that well but was a hard working dedicated professional) also got trashed unfairly by her and I knew the writing was on the wall. There was one team member who really deserved a bad review, he was not a team player, dragged his feet getting things done, annoyed customers etc. but I don't know what his review was like.

They then implemented this insane time sheet system where you had to track everything in super detail (yes, there was a time sheet code for filling in the time sheet, I kid you not).

It was abundantly clear that they were laying the foundation for wide scale layoffs. There really wasn't enough real work for everyone to do but I made sure my time sheet was not objectionable and hung on until the layoffs came out of spite. If I left on my own it wouldn't cost them anything.

More than half the people in the office were history when it happened, myself included. I had a lot of unused vacation time and had been there for nearly 8 years so their rules stuck them with giving me a very nice severance package. I was really happy to be laid off but tried not to show it too much because everyone else was in shock for some reason. It kind of creeped out my boss and her boss that I was cool with it, I liked that. :)

The slacker team member was also let go and took it hard. The team leader and others in other Dept's. left on their own later on. My dept was left as just the manager and one new employee for whom English was a second language. I'm sure our customers loved that. They moved to a smaller office and are currently at risk of having their whole product line dropped.

There are still tens of thousands of unemployed high-tech workers here and I've been unemployed for over a year now in spite of my best efforts. In that time however I've discovered what it is that I was 'born to do' as Rush puts it, so I'm now chasing after a very new and exciting career.
32 posted on 03/24/2004 2:19:49 PM PST by Grig
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To: Mr. Bird
This Shapiro lady is clearly a hack. I've consulted companies on such issues for as long as she has and have never encountered any such "list". Sure, managers know who wouldn't be missed if they never showed up again, but "secret lists" are for the tinfoil hat crowd.

I don't know. I've been with the same company for 24 years and have worked for eight vice presidents. I have long been the senior manager in the company because our president simply does not promote VPs from inside the company. The last three or four VPs have been jealous to some degree over my relationship with the Pres because he routinely jumps the chain of command and comes to me directly. Anyway, Vice Pres no. 7 and another manager targeted me and my department heads and some of the assistants. I could do nothing as, one by one all were forced out one way or another.

Our major suppliers became alarmed and one of them invited me to interview with them. They sent me a plane ticket to their corporate HQ, rented me a car and put me up in a nice hotel. It turned out that of the four people who interviewed me, three were old friends I had worked with for years and we spent most of the time chatting about fishing and hunting and how great it would be to work and play together. After the "interview" they took me to lunch followed by a tour of the building and visits with other old friends in the company. That evening we went out drinking together.

Apparently word got back to the Pres of what was going on

When I got back I was called in to a meeting with my boss, VP#7, and VP #8. I was told that I would henceforth report to VP#8 but I would have the same duties. Basically my whole division was shifted to VP#8 and, by the way, I was to receive a 25% raise! Next day, VP#8 called me in and told me he knew all about what was going on, that he was sorry for it and that VP#7 and his protege manager were on the way out along with their clique of managers, assistants and sycophants and could I handle the additional responsibilities that would have to be covered. A year later the executive formerly known as VP#7 has been demoted and now mopes around like a scolded dog and all of his sycophants are gone. I have had another 25% raise and have been allowed to design my own office on the top floor in our new building while my former nemesis will be housed in the basement.

There most certainly are hit lists, though they won't be written down.

33 posted on 03/24/2004 3:19:24 PM PST by Chuckster ("Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it." George Bernard Shaw)
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To: Mr. Bird
Concur with your comments in #6
34 posted on 03/24/2004 3:25:16 PM PST by af_vet_1981
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To: Willie Green
I had to fire one guy who was a hot head. The way I phrased it was, "I'd like to be able to say that you'll be with the company a year from now...." and that's as far as I got.

He slammed his hand down on my desktop and said, "I knew it!" then stopped out of my office and left the building, threatening another employee in the parking lot. I can imagine what "You're fired" would have been like.

The worst was letting female employees go and having them start to cry.
35 posted on 03/24/2004 9:08:34 PM PST by gcruse (http://gcruse.typepad.com/)
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