The Green Light on Employee Termination

In an online chat on the best books in corporate communication, someone suggested the Bible. I can’t say I necessarily agree with that choice, but I am reminded of a number of proverbs that have wise things to say about the handling of information.

Case in point. The British paper The Telegraph  reported that local mobile telephone provider Everything Everywhere was using colour codes to announce sackings. Details are sketchy but Ragan.com portrayed it as a kind of Green your job is safe and Red its time to dust off the CV.

Everything Everywhere does not dispute that some sort of colour system was used, but the company insists that the system was tasteful and only part of a whole package of information that it provided to its (perhaps soon-to-be former) employees.

Naturally Ragan brought in experts to critique the method. These universally stated that if the company displayed a list of names on the wall and red-lighted the dearly departed PUBLICLY, then that would be a pretty lousy way to get the boot.

But just as obvious (at least in hindsight) are the repercussions if news of such a system (tasteful or not) became public. Let’s face it, as a news item a colour-coded dismissal system is just so … colourful.

And open to misinterpretation.

Which reminds me of that Bible proverb that says (I paraphrase) a greeting given with a loud voice first thing in the morning is liable to be considered a curse by the recipient. In other words, even when giving good news, method and timing are crucial.