In Monday's Philadelphia Inquirer, we ran an interview with the authors of "How To Keep Your Job In a Tough Competitive Market: 101 Strategies You Can Use Today." The tips, from local authors Bob Calandra and Michael J. Kitson, are mostly common sense, but I have one problem with them. It's kind of the same problem I have when people blame a person whose car has been stolen for leaving the door unlocked. Listen, you have a right to have your car be where you parked it -- even if the door is open and the keys are in the ignition. Stealing is wrong and it's not the victim's fault. It's that simple.
It would be nice to imagine that companies actually care about the individual skills of their employees and I suppose they do, to some extent. But they also care which employees cost the most. They need to arrive at some bottom line, "right-sized" figure and getting there can be a crude process. I'd hate for people being booted from their jobs to be walking to the parking lot in tears saying, "Wow, I shouldn't have gone to my kid's graduation, or shouldn't have visited my mother in the hospital or I should I have stayed at work an extra hour that Tuesday."
Coulda, woulda, shoulda. How convenient to let companies off the hook when they are the ones doing the layoffs! I have no patience for lazy employees. But it shouldn't require a layoff to fire someone who isn't doing the job, assuming they've been given adequate support and training.
Companies have a right to make a profit. Indeed, if they don't make more than it costs them to produce their goods or services, they don't have the ability to expand, invest and research. In general, a lay off indicates management failure -- failure to plan, failure to develop a product, failure to market it, failure to procure adequate financing, failure to manage expenses, including labor costs. Of course, in a tough economy, it's more difficult. That's why even as I say this next sentence, I would like to throw in a little mercy to these companies. Bottom line: Companies should feel ashamed when they have a lay off. They shouldn't make their employees feel ashamed for having been laid off.