The Sorrows Behind Corporate Pink Slips

Here's a sorrow-filled story from the New York Times about the personal side of downsizing [soap-opera theme]. It's about the emotional trauma suffered by those who get caught-up in the blizzard of pink slips in today's harsh, corporate climate. Only, the Times story is not about the people getting pink slips . . . but about the sad plight of bosses who hand them out. Need a hankie?

Of course, the big bosses, the CEOs who mandate the mass firings, never soil their soft hands with actually handing out termination notices. This is done by line bosses, and these days many of them are 20-something, junior executives just a few years out of college. Well-paid, upwardly-mobile, and awash in stock options, they're products of the boom-boom good times, and it never occurred to them that there were any dark clouds in the corporate sky. Having to punt a bunch of geezers in their 40s and 50s has like, you know, totally freaked out some of them.

But the happy news is that some of these young punters are getting the personal counseling and help they need so they can do the dirty work of corporate America. The Times reports that these bosses are being schooled in how-to-fire someone, taking corporate courses that include simulated firings, that engage them in role playing, and that teach them politically correct downsizing-speak. Among the tips for these beginning downsizers are "never fire on a Friday" (because the firee will stew all weekend and sue the company on Monday); "Keep the termination exercise to less than 10 minutes" (after all, this is a firing, not a happy hour); and "let the fired employee keep his e-mail address" for awhile (this will make you seem generous).

This is Jim Hightower saying . . . The Times happily informs us that, with this training, the 20-somethings are quickly able to get over their trauma and get with the downsizing program. As one of them says: "At the end of the day it's a business, and you have to make hard business decisions." Atta boy--that's the corporate attitude!

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