So it is that Kansas City Star publisher Mi-Ai Parrish came out from underneath her desk last night long enough to kinda-sorta set the record straight while inadvertantly digging herself into yet a deeper hole.
“In a statement e-mailed to NBC News late Wednesday, Parrish said the paper was cutting its workforce by 17 positions,” the explanation begins in nbcnews.com’s business section.
“These are always difficult decisions, so we will on occasion allow employees to volunteer for a severance package when we are reducing in areas where there are two or more of the same types of positions,” Parrish said in the statement.
“She added that if an employee in a group does not volunteer, ‘then the person with the least amount of tenure is included in the severance program.’
“Parrish declined further comment on personnel decisions.”
Controversy solved, right? Wrong.
“’I would strongly caution any organization from insourcing layoff decisions to the employees. There’s a reason why they pay people in leadership positions more than they pay their direct reports,’ said Bob Kelleher, CEO of The Employee Engagement Group and author of the new book ‘Creativeship: A Novel For Evolving Leaders.’
“’Leaders should be held accountable for making those tough decisions,” Kelleher said. “I don’t believe it should be the employees who are put in a position to make those decisions.’”
“Companies sometimes ask workers to step forward in a voluntary layoff situation, but pitting one person against another is not the way to go, said Nan Russell, host of the ‘Work Matters’ radio show and author of ‘The Titleless Leader.’
“’Personally, I think it’s very appalling that individuals would be in that kind of situation — not only from the emotional standpoint for them to have to make that decision, but also for what happens to the people who are left behind and their now lack of respect for the leaders in that organization,’ she said.”
The bottom line on the NBC report on the Star’s ‘Hunger Games’ debacle:
“Management usually has guidelines when it comes to layoffs, whether the call is made based on performance or other factors, Russell said. Employees, in turn, expect that their leaders will make fair, tough decisions, and when they do, they earn workers’ respect and trust.
“But making two people choose who will be the one to leave indicates someone lacked the courage to make the choice, she added. That can create problems beyond the pain of the employees involved…
“Any action related to a layoff is always closely watched by the remaining employees, Kelleher said. A company always needs to evaluate what effect any decision will have on the individuals involved, as well as the organization and the brand, he said.”
Back to you, Mi-Ai…
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