Can I Get a Novena, Please?

I’ve fired a lot of employees in my 17+ years in the realm of human resources…far more than I care to count or remember.  It’s never fun or easy, but I’ve never really had an issue with it either.  So far, all of those terminations were performed in a professional environment – all white collar.  Aside from a little yelling, nothing too outrageous as ever happened during a termination.  Tomorrow I’m helping a client conduct an unprecidented layoff.  This client is in the business of logistics – trucking, warehousing, fulfillment.  And the employees who will be let go are rough and tumble, roll up your sleeves, and get dirty kinds of guys.  They work with trucks, and fork lifts, and big pallets of inventory.  They are out in the elements all day long – cold, hot, wet, whatever.  They don’t sit behind desks tapping away at keyboards.  I’m not suggesting they are any more prone to violence then your average white collar psycho, but I must admit the prospect of conducting multiple terminations with these folk has given me pause.  These are guys, after all, who most likely have conceal and carry licenses.  Just do me a favor and pray that all goes well with me (and them) tomorrow.

6 Responses to Can I Get a Novena, Please?
  1. Steve Browne
    April 8, 2010 | 5:31 pm

    Charlie – Been there !! Unfortunately can claim about 2,000 blue collar terms/layoffs over my HR career. You’ll get a Novena from me eventhough I technically go to a Methodist Church !! Hang in there my friend.

  2. Tammy Colson
    April 8, 2010 | 5:42 pm

    Charlie, my thoughts are with you – i’ve done more than my fair share of blue collar layoffs. You really want to know what you will see? Tears from men that you’d never thought would let you see them cry.

    Have a box of tissues handy on the front of the desk. Just like any other layoff.

    They won’t be pissed off until sometime on Saturday night.
    You’re driving a rental car to the client site, right?

    Friday layoffs are always a bad idea in my book.
    Novena covered.

  3. Bryan Wempen
    April 8, 2010 | 6:12 pm

    Sending you the Novena right out of the gate.(wondered why you wanted skin cream but thats Nivea, a little humor helps..) Yep, right up there with Tammy and Steve with lots of labor, blue, white, tan, red, etc. collar terms.

    Friday’s are tough because they can’t immediately go look for a job and the weekend let’s it boil up a bit but if you can change the date then. I have one word(sorta) that got me through thousands of terms with these folks: “respect”. I am sure it will be done in a very respectful way, and that allows tough things to work out. Lot’s of privacy to allow them to be a little emotional will allow them to not fell disrespected and peer pressure to act out.

    PS. Rental car is good. Had 1 rental car damaged significantly in Indy after a round of terms (with cause) I might add.

  4. Shennee
    April 8, 2010 | 6:24 pm

    Oh Charlie- My thoughts and Prayers are with you as you head into what I am sure will be a most difficult day for all involved.
    Fridays are rough, but going to be really bad for what you are dealing with.

  5. Bonita
    April 9, 2010 | 7:10 am

    I’ve been there too, but have found that blue collar workers are some of the kindest and generous employees that I have ever worked with. They literally could be my dad or grandfather. Just remember that most live pay check to pay check and have families and bills to pay. Dignity, respect and communication go a long way!

  6. Charlie
    April 9, 2010 | 7:36 am

    Thanks to all of you for your kind words…and sound advice. I hadn’t thought of the rental car…might look into that. The “Fridays Discussion” is an interesting one. It makes sense that it’s different for Blue Collar and White Collar I suppose. The other side of the argument is that it gives the rest of the company a couple of days away from the environment to let the drama die down a bit. This is part of an organizational change that they want to make a big fuss about on Monday. Good advice, though. And my experience is always that those you think will be hardest are actually easiest (and vice-a-versa). Let’s hope that plays out. Happy Friday, all!

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