Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fired by E-Mail

An error is the more dangerous in proportion to the degree of truth which it contains.
Henri-Frédéric Amiel (1821–81), philosopher

The newest and most hideous method of letting go of employees is by e-mail, according to one of those self-serving company surveys, this one done for a communications company, The Marline Company.

Ten percent of U.S. employees say their company has used e-mail to fire or lay-off employees. I firmly believe there should be a law against such actions. Also, the employee should say he/she didn’t see it and continue to work.

This same survey also found that 5% of respondents had been the recipient of a humiliating e-mail that was copied to other individuals. This I believe should be a much higher figure or at least higher to make me feel better.

I once sent an e-mail stating that a certain so and so was an ass, but I ended up sending it to the ass. Guess who was the ass then? I immediately called him up and apologized. He was such an ass about it he didn’t even get mad.

I once sent wife an e-mail at work (we both worked there) asking why she didn’t invite me to spend the night at her place. She responded that I would need to wear a catcher’s mask and sleep with my shoes on. The second e-mail explained because her dogs would attack me while we slept, but the recipient didn’t get that e-mail, just the first one thinking we were into something kinky or weird. Wife attempted to track it down and delete it, but brought far more attention to it.

In any case, I try every hard to be like Dick Cheney and not put much in writing I don’t want used against me.


Unknown said...

I like the idea about just ignoring it and acting like you didn't get the email. Firing someone via email is just cowardly and lazy, and any company that does it ought to be openly ridiculed and shamed.

Anonymous said...

Sitting in my in-box when I returned from a rather pleasant lunch out one heady day in 2005 was an e-mail informing me and every other employee in the company that we had been acquired lock, stock, and barrel by another company and that our existing jobs were terminated en masse as of 6 o' clock that evening. Thankfully, it went on to say that we would all be rehired by our benevolent new owners the following day. Still, it was rather a stunning thing to learn via e-mail.

I have a complicated relationship with e-mail. I actually think that its advent has increased written communication, but I also feel the quality of that communication has been cheapened. Not only is it exceedingly difficult to gauge tone in dry two-line messages—such that you can think your boss is being terse when she's actually just being brief—it's also just too easy to fire off heat-of-the-moment e-mails, and though I shudder to say this, typos are the least of our worries. Everyone should proofread everything for grammar and content. If you think it's at all possible that your words could be misunderstood on the other end, they probably will be.

The Misanthrope said...

Brian, it is indeed cowardly and lazy as well as seemingly immoral and heinous. I think we have it all covered.

Teresa, the bad will that such an e-mail can generate I think could ruin a company. Regarding typos, I cannot seem to escape those damn things, I swear they weren't there to begin with.

Jack Steiner said...

I have a few email horror stories. It can be a dangerous tool if you aren't careful.

The Misanthrope said...

Jack, I think you should share them.