Lee Hutchinson, one of my fav authors over at Ars Technica, has written a darn good rant on the recent news, of Microsoft firing 15000 people.
One of Satya Nadella’s first acts as CEO was to write this piece of fuzzy, long winded shit.
And the reason, that this strikes such a strong chord with with me, is because about a decade ago, I was the recipient of this mail.
Can you see the ‘synergy’ between Nadella’s mail & Capellas’?
While time and distance have given me perspective on the why, the how of the layoff, still rankles once in a while. Ever since my Compaq journey, I’ve been independant and I’ve been hired and fired by dozens of clients and none of it, bothered me the way CPQ did.
Lee, however managed to put a finger on it, and led me to some sort of catharsis…
In the end, the e-mail’s key ironic sentence is this one:
Everyone can expect to be treated with the respect they deserve for their contributions to this company.
This ersatz expression of thanks could be cloned from every other layoff e-mail from every other company ever—it manages to be both patronizing and vaguely malevolent at the same time. What, precisely, does an employee "deserve" in this instance? There's an argument to be made that employees deserve to be spoken to rather than spoken at, but down that path lies the potential for liability. Like an unreadable, thick EULA, companies almost invariably choose to use the kind of messaging in this e-mail rather than normal-person talk.
Put another way, the offensive part here is not that Microsoft has to lay off 18,000 people—that kind of thing happens in business, and sometimes companies have to cut employees. That’s not the problem. The problem is that this is an inhumane, inhuman way to let those 18,000 people go.
This kind of insultingly indirect messaging plagues most large businesses—and it's horrible no matter where it shows up. Companies should "align their synergies" with the humans they're firing and do them the courtesy of not pissing on them and telling them it’s raining. There’s a decent way to let people go, and this ain’t it.
And I realized, that was it. The sheer buck passing, time wasting, soul sucking, hopeless inhumanity of it all!
Thank you Lee. I can finally relax now :)