Those team members who did nothing wrong except to be in the wrong place in downward spiraling economic conditions.
As we sat in Steves office the day of the layoff, we followed the very well documented HR procedure to terminate an employee. Headquarters asked if we wanted security and we declined. I have seen hired goons brought in at other places and how it made a worse situation even worse, leaving a horrible taste in everyones mouth.
We brought them in one at a time and everyone knew if I came to get them that their number was up. The ones who took it the best had already been looking for a new job and were much better prepared to deal with the psychological impact of suddenly being without a job.
Those who took it badly, like Marissa, were not blind that a layoff was imminent, but for whatever reason thought it wouldnt be them.
Steve tried to answer her question. Marissa, you must understand this was a very difficult process and there is nothing you did to cause this. It was simply a numbers game.
But it isnt fair.
It seemed cliché. Yet she was correct, there wasnt anything fair about it. And I responded with another cliché from professional sports when a player is let go.
Its just business, not personal.
Tears were rolling down her face as she left to clear out her cubicle. I wanted to blurt out that her name was the last on the list, that she had almost made the cutoff.
However, I realized that would provide little solace and probably would tick her off even more. Because the hard truth was there wasnt any discernable difference between her and the next developer who kept their job.
It taught me that being a manager comes with unpleasant responsibilities. Hopefully it taught Marissa to never assume your job is safe and that you always need to prepare for the day when your number is called, whether it is fair or not.
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Eric Spiegel is CEO and co-founder of XTS, which provides software for planning, managing and auditing Citrix and other virtualization platforms.