How to give the sack (1968)

Submitted by dalcassian on 7 June, 2014 - 7:50

Now I know that we have no disreputable working class readers,
the sort of people who would do grievous wrong to the humane sensibilities of their employer by forcing him to dismiss them. Of course not.

Readers therefore will be inclined to view sympathetically the problems, pressures and 'emotional stresses' which face the average Personel Manager, whose job, naturally, includes regular chopping sessions
with an industrial hatchet.

The problem is that some workers, at various levels, actually resent being
sacked and create a fuss. And that's not all: 'Of all the problems an
executive is called upon to resolve, none is more fraught with emotion than when he has to dismiss an employee.'

Hiding behind the hard, hatchet-faced pose of the industrial executioner is a quivering jelly of 'humane' squeamishness. And more.

'This emotion has the most undesirable effects - a build-up of nervous tension for weeks, for example - and many is the time that
a man continues to be employed long after he should have been dismissed,simply because the executive who has to do it,
cannot face up to the task'.

Just to keep the heavy weight of decision=making from burdening us down, they take upon themselves the sole right and duty of decision and control over us and our lives.

It would of course be less, far less, of a strain on the nerves of the hatchetmen if such things as hiring and firing, redundancies, etc etc, were directly in the collective control of the workers in a factory, mine, office.

But that would be passing the buck. These front-line fighters in the personel war must soldier on, with the aid of nerve pills, such feelings of moral righteousness as they can muster, and the natural thickening of the skin that goes with their status and their job.

But now Social Science - capital S!- comes to their rescue with a codified
set of recipes for making the least messy industrial chop. A Dale Carnegie,
Stephenson by name, has walked amongst them, and, according to the preview in the Fnancial Times (whose comments I've been quoting) is offering a hand-book for the guidance of the professional or semi professional industrial executioner.

In face of the 'emotional stresses and strains' facing the men who purge those least amenable, for whatever reason, to self-submission to the needs
of the bosses - what does this prophet of 'sacking without tears' suggest?

PLANNED DISMISSAL! It must become a planned management function. And why? Stephenson gives 6 Good Reasons:

*'To avoid deterioration of the dismissing executive's own work because
of his emotional upset;

*to avoid the dismissal interview developing into an argument;

*to avoid post-employment problems - trouble the employee may cause among people outside the company;

*to avoid a feeling of insecurity among the rest of the staff;

*to ensure that dismissal is carried out in the right place and at the right time; and, finally, to preserve the company's good image.

Thus, civilised, humane, modern Capitalism deploys its concern for people by planning for people-waste disposal in the same way as thing-waste disposal.

Curiously, Stephenson recommends more personal involvement for the chopper-men. It seems many of them don't always know why the blow they are delivering has been decreed. Stephenson says: STUDY THE
FACTS. Fortify your feeling of being morally right.

He lists generally applicable reasons for firing,apart from redundancy and bad health (!).

*'Inefficiency without' doubt "is the main reason for firing anyone.
*Another good reason is if one man has a negative, dispiriting, or positively deleterious' effect on another.

*A strong candidate for dismissal is the employee Who swears continuously, spreads rumours, speaks disparagingly of the company, borrows money from his colleagues and is slow in repaying, who has a love affair with another employee.,,.'

Best time for delivering the bad news? Evening, preferably Friday evening, if possible with an interview in private lasting , "between 15 and 45 minutes: ...much of the force of an outraged,
disgruntled or over-aggressive employee disappears over a night or weekend".

A final encouraging word from the Financial Times:

"And so, stick to your plans: state the facts, avoid a discussion, then soften
the blow (if appropriate) by wishing the employee greater success in future.

And that's the recipe - delivered like a lab report on guinea-pig handling.

Considerate readers will probably be inspired to step up the effort to relieve these sensitive people from their burdens - by taking, together with the rest of the working class, control of hiring and firing, and everything else, out of their hands.

Will Stephenson's recipes help us when we come to our own big, Final Dismissal - of the employers, their Government, their state and their hatchet men?

Can we do it politely - and without discussion? Somehow I think it just might reach the argument stage - and not merely a verbal one. It won't happen just before closing time on a Friday evening. And it won't be over in 45 minutes.