Technology in regards to workplace communication has been a hot topic ever since business practices started evolving. What used to once require an international trip can now be done via Skype. Hiring practices that used to include newspaper ads have now shifted towards online job boards and even text messages. While things seem to get more convenient with each technological evolution, what does this mean for our communication skills in the workplace? Well, it means we can now use technology to do what we don’t want to do in person– like fire an employee.
In case you didn’t see one of the many headlines, President Trump fired his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson – via Twitter. Before the President’s tweet, Tillerson was in Africa, trying to improve diplomatic relations. Though he held differing views from the President, which caused friction, the tweet and ousting came as a surprise to Tillerson. On top of that is the fact that many people found out he was fired before he even knew. In fact, he didn’t even see the tweet himself – a top aide brought it to his attention on the plane.
While not nearly as dramatic or jarring, here’s another example of technology playing a role in communication when it shouldn’t. In college, I worked part-time at a retail store. The morning after my new semester started, I woke up to the following email:
I know you can no longer work Tuesdays, so we’re letting you go. You are not eligible for unemployment.
Ouch, right? To make matters worse, we had already discussed the new schedule and I was told it wouldn’t be a problem – which is why I had a ton of questions. I never ended up asking any of them; I didn’t think the manager would even respond. I felt so disrespected and blindsided by the email. It bothered me that they couldn’t just tell me to my face!
Much like no one wants to be broken up with over text, employees don’t want to be fired over text, email, or Twitter (or ideally, at all). It all comes down to human decency; the best way to deliver bad news is in person. This not only shows the employee that you respect them, but also allows them to ask any questions they may have. Of course, this conversation is best done privately to give employees time to take in the news and react.
So next time you’re tempted to take the easy route when delivering bad news, take a second to flip the script. You’re giving an employee the worst professional news they can get. The least you can do is tell them to their face.
Nexxt is a recruitment media company that uses today’s most effective marketing tactics to reach the full spectrum of talent – from active to passive, and everything in between. Learn more about hiring with Nexxt.