• 09.12.11

Passive-Aggressive/Ways To Fire Your Employees?/Try A Text Haiku!

Carol Bartz was unceremoniously fired by the chairman of Yahoo’s board via a phone call. In 2006, a well-known national electronics retailer created some less than favorable PR when the company fired hundreds of employees through e-mail. What’s next? Text! A humorous look at how to can employees in 17 chilly syllables.

Back in 2006, a well-known national electronics retailer created some less than favorable PR for itself when the company fired hundreds of employees through e-mail. The recipients weren’t just associates in remote areas of the country in little towns with odd names like Naubinway or Pelican Rapids; the e-missives also went out to people at headquarters, people conceivably just down the hall from their boss or HR. Nice.


But phone calls and e-mails are so yesterday as a vehicle for the messy business of removing someone from his or her job. We live in a world of texts and tweets, so is this where this trend is headed? And technology can be used very creatively. Someone recently won a tweet contest for a $37,000 scholarship to the University of Iowa’s MBA school using not only the tweet format, but haiku, the traditional Japanese lyric verse form. Haiku, for the uninitiated, is a poetic structure containing 17 syllables, with verses of 5-7-5 syllables respectively.   

Perhaps haiku combined with texting would seem ideal for termination notices. It is coldly efficient (17 syllables delivered electronically), yet also has an emotional component provided through the artisan verse. It has appeal to both left brainers and right brainers. Here, then, are some examples of how the future of delivering the bad news might look in a world where the unintended consequences of technology reign.  Not very pretty…

Your tenure with us
is a very fleeting thing.
It has now fleeted.

You’ve under-achieved.
Please find somewhere else to work.
It’s about results.

That seems to be your standard,
but not here. Goodbye.

This morning you found
all your passwords disabled.
Please clean out your desk.

Why termination?
You haven’t added value
for many quarters.


Peter Principle:
You’ve attained your level of
incompetence. Ciao!

Performance to plan,
it’s never been your strong suit.
We’re letting you go.

Our press release says
that you left to seek other

Members of the board
wanted you to land softly.
Golden parachute.

So many VPs;
one fewer will not hurt us.
You’re that one fewer.

This is your pink slip;
It’s neither pink nor a slip.
Dismissal notice.

Mike Hoban is a management consultant in his day job and can be contacted at


[Image: Flickr user Lars Plougmann]