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Workscripts: Perfect Phrases for High-Stakes Conversations by Mark Levine, Stephen M. Pollan

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Chapter 3. DEATH SENTENCES

One thing that's certainly different in today's workplace is that terminations have become more frequent than in the past. Managers used to be able to go for years without having to deliver a death sentence. Terminating an employee used to be considered a milestone for a young manager, a big step in the process of professional maturation, made even larger because it was so rare. While it's still monumental and traumatic for the employee being fired, it's no longer as significant an event for the manager. That's a shame.

Primarily, it's a shame because it makes management a less humane process. Terminations are a fact of business. Based, in one way or another, on economic factors, they are neither good nor evil; they're just facts. But when they were rare, and still meaningful, events for management as well as for employees, they were handled with far more sensitivity and compassion. In years past no one would have thought to not let someone clean up his or her own desk or to have a long-time employee escorted out and away from the building by a security guard as if they were a criminal. Treating someone with dignity and respect was important, not because it yielded some tangible return, but because it was the right thing to do and it sent a message to everyone else in the organization. Today there is no compassion, sensitivity, or empathy in the termination process.

It's also a process that has been changed in substance, not just tone, by the new work environment. ...

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