Firing someone is one of the most difficult tasks a manager has to face. When you have to fire a lot of people, it’s not only emotionally difficult for the manager, but also a potential logistical nightmare. Hoping to, for instance, keep rumors from flying around, employers prefer not let a great deal of time elapse between when the first and last person is notified of the job loss.

Ford Motor (F) recently had to dismiss about 100 workers at a Chicago assembly plant, which is a pretty good sized group. But rather than deal with scheduling or having managers go through the difficult task of sitting down with each individual, they used the telephone. The phone isn’t the preferable way to terminate someone, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Yet Ford went one step further and used robocalls to notify people that they were losing their jobs. That’s right. Ford terminated nearly 100 people via a recording — on Halloween.

To keep reading about how Ford is competing for worst HR practices of the year, click here: Workers were fired by robocall

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9 thoughts on “Workers were fired by robocall

  1. Respectfully, I find the honesty refreshing. “Workers” do not want to feel like a “number” and yet it is, if embraced, liberating to realizing ones true role…..worker, tool, resource to reach a goal of being a successful organization.

    For years, generations, workers have been hypnotized into believing they are part of the “family” simply is not true….in a family, you are always part of the family, in a company, you are a part of the family until you are no longer a productive resource that can be optimized for maximum results…..then you are gone….but, feeling like you are loved and a part of the family makes one more compliant and manageable. Constantine did it with Christianity…..not much difference…how best to lead and manage large groups. OK, admittedly, that does sound cynical…sorry)

    Your charming and witty water cooler banter may be missed if you are laid off, fired or other, but gone you will be. Use it as a life lesson.

    Rather than look at this as another cynical condemnation of “the man”, look at it as a reality check. The answer? Be great at your job and you will never get the robocall….OK, never is a long time and there is an insanity that permeates the corporate world that cannot be explained! But you will certainly decrease your chances of getting “the call” by being great at your job….it ain’t personal, its a job.

    I applaud Ford for having the guts to act like the what it is….creating an effective and efficient organization.

    1. What Ford did was… wrong. And explaining their behavior as “efficient” is way off base. While I agree with you that your employers aren’t generally on par with your family, you don’t treat people this way. This has nothing to do with being a number or being a tool if the organization you work for. It has everything to do with treating people with respect, and recognizing the negative impact you’re about to have on their livelihood. Yes, terminating or laying someone off should never be personal, but good employers don’t operate this way.

      1. I don’t disagree with your position that you don’t treat people this way. My point is, ironically, meant to be empowering. Don’t expect “them” to be your buddy and recognize that “they” do treat people this way and set your expectations appropriately….THAT is the liberating part

    2. One myth I’m determined to bust is that only bad workers get laid off. I’ve literally laid off over 3,000 people. Some were awful. Some were fantastic. Layoffs aren’t just about getting rid of the dead weight, they are about cutting departments and products and closing facilities.

      Yes, you lower your chance of being laid off by being fabulous, but you don’t come anywhere close to eliminating it.

      1. Cheers to that….and the stigma is transformational. Some things are beyond our control but we are a controlling species!

    1. Yes, I hate to think what MBA students will think about this. “Hey, Ford did this super efficient termination…”

      1. Too many professionals learn how to be efficient without learning how to be effective. They are very different. For example, imagine in your mind the Human Resources department, then imagine a Humane Human Resources department. The cost of Zero versus Humane is negligible if at all, it is only how professionals approach performing their duties, and the qualitative benefit of Humane Human Resources to all employees can be greater.

  2. Unconscionable corporate behavior on Ford’s part. Zero leadership by whomever made the decision to lay employees off this way. Through the years I’ve had to terminate a few people for cause and lay off many more. Always, always did this face to face. Not easy, but necessary.

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