Willie Randolph and e-mail firings

June really can be the best time to run here in Northeast Ohio. This morning at 5 a.m.: cool, light breeze, even some daylight. Can’t beat that. And just to show that I wasn’t wasting my time out there pounding the concrete, I was thinking about Willie Randolph — recently fired manager of the New York Mets.

Ouch. That’s a tough word: fired. I guess that’s why you don’t see it used much in business, government, nonprofits and education. Someone is laid off. Let go. Part of a reduction in force, etc.

And I always chuckled when writing the announcements about the goings of senior managers.

“Gary Gasbag is giving up his multimillion-dollar salary to spend more time with his family.”


“Gary Gasbag is leaving the company to pursue other interests.”

Not many corporate announcements say: “Gary Gasbag was a douche bag, and the Board had to get rid of him before he totally destroyed the company.” If I find one of those announcements I’ll share it with you.

Truth. Honesty. Disclosure. Not the hallmark of those kind of announcements. Trust me. Unfortunately, I’ve been there.

But poor Willie Randolph. He got fired. But at least his boss, Mets General Manager Omar Minaya, had the class and the balls to tell him in person, face to face. That’s not always the case these days. More and more managers — and organizations — love to hide behind the curtain and send e-mail messages to employees letting them know they are fired, laid off, whatever.

The New York Times talked about this and other matters in an article titled “In Life, as in Baseball, Getting Fired is an Opening for a Comeback.” Here are the first two paragraphs of the article:

Kerry Leishman’s boss did not bother to say, “You’re fired,” face to face. He sent her the news in a text message.

if (acm.rc) acm.rc.write();“He wrote, ‘I wanted to do this in person, but I’m sick,’ ” she said, recalling how she lost her bartending job at a financial district restaurant. “ ‘Don’t come in, but drop off the keys.’ ”

Fortunately I never had to fire someone because of poor job performance. But I did several times have to tell people that they would no longer have a job because of staff cutbacks. And during my time at Goodrich we closed a number of manufacturing and office facilities — affecting the lives of thousands of people. And I use the word people — rather than employees. If there is any communication that demands respect and consideration for the individuals involved and their families this is it.

And it’s never easy — but I sure hope we aren’t heading down the road where organizations become so insensitive that managers believe e-mail will substitute for face-to-face communication. It doesn’t.

At least Willie Randolph heard it directly from the boss.


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