September 05, 2006

Insensitive: Radio Shack

From a former co-worker of mine at Lands' End, Jeanne Bliss, on Radio Shack informing employees that their jobs had been eliminated via email.

I have fired people, I have also informed employees that I had eliminated their job. It is a humbling and emotional experience for the person on the other end of the table. It is really hard to be on my end of the table. But that experience builds character for both parties. You feel alive, full of feelings and emotions, when going through either side of this experience.

How Radio Shack chose to execute this strategy is just cold, cruel, and insensitive, if the story is true. How likely are you to recommend this company as a place to work? How likely are you to apply for a job there, knowing this is how they treat the very people that keep them in business?

Executives, Directors, Managers and Supervisors. Please be human, sensitive, kind, warm, and understanding when it is your turn to do something unpleasant. Your character, your integrity, your reason for being is at stake at a moment when a job comes to an end. If you are an Executive, this is when you earn that insanely large salary plus bonus plus stock options. Please demonstrate some leadership.

7 comments:

  1. Jeff Hassemer3:38 PM

    My favorite part of this is the way that they defended themselves by stating "...Company officials had told employees in a series of meetings that layoff notices would be delivered electronically, spokeswoman Kay Jackson said. She said employees were invited to ask questions before Tuesday's notification on a company intranet site."
    Wow! Are they really that introverted(I had to search my mind for a nice word here...this was the nicest I could say) where they cannot face their employees in times like this? True leaders show their colors in bad times as well as good. Clearly Radio Shack's colors are yellow (maybe blush red if they have a conscious).

    I personally feel for the 400 people that lost their jobs, but hopefully they know that they will likely find themselves in a better place than Radio Shack when all is said and done.

    As for Radio Shack, I bet that they find themselves wondering why thier employee base has no loyalty. It will be interesting to watch the slide this company goes into after this stunt.

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  2. Kevin Hillstrom9:19 PM

    Well said, Jeff!

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  3. Classic Radio Shack . . . All owing to the toxic culture of the Tandy Corporation and the Ft. Worth-based Bass family ownership that was behind the early malignant culture that became Radio Shack. In essence, the early beginnings were all about greed and arrogance, and it is not surprising that many years later it is all beginning to end with the same toxic arrogance.

    Radio Shack had, for years, a store-wide policy on returns that allowed only a merchandise credit, never a cash refund -- for any reason. What they never really bothered to tell anyone was there was a 30-day limit on the merchandise credit. If you returned to the store on the 31st day to apply your little credit slip, the store managers refused to honor it. No amount of reason or logic or any other type of appeal would ever convince them they were wrong in this fundamental policy of disrespect towards their customers.

    So, one can logically assume that a company that has no respect for its customers will have even less for its employees.

    The message this sends? "Ye who enter a Radio Shack store, abandon all hope."

    The only solution to such corporate arrogance is to sell your stock ifyou are unfortunate to own some, find a real employer if you are unfortunate enough to work there, tell 12 people to abandon any loyalty as customers of Radio Shack, and personally never buy from them again.

    Radio Shack will not survive. The ancient economic Law of Substitutes is alive and well. And, Darwin was right.

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  4. Kevin Hillstrom8:42 AM

    If Darwin were alive today, he would have had a fantastic career applying his theories to our capitalist society. He could even have his own blog!

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  5. jhassemer1:33 PM

    I think that Darwin is channeling through Geoffrey Moore...
    http://geoffmoore.blogs.com/my_weblog/

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  6. Anonymous9:59 AM

    I was there at the time. I was not one of the 400, but was laid off later.
    And I have to say that it was largely a case of non/miss-management from a PR standpoint.
    Was email the best way to do it? No, but the way they handled it internally (which was really not ever reported) was really very honest, straightforward and candid.
    They told us when it was going to happen, how it was going to happen, and of course they reasons on why.
    In a huge cublicle environment, how sensitive is it for your boss to walk over to your cube, tap you on the shoulder and walk you into a conference room with HR rep and a box of kleenex waiting? It would have been embarassing and humiliating. We/they got an email that said they'd been included in the staff reduction, and that they had 30 minutes to gather what they wanted to take (we could come back at a later time to get our stuff), and meet your boss and HR guy in a designated conference room. So people were able to compose themsleves, get up quietly and go get shot in the head.
    The bad part was that when the folks left in marketing/pr wanted to respond to the bad press saying we'd all been fired by email, the new CEO (who is really just a CFO [insert your own stereotype of a number-crunching cost-cutter] refused and thought it best to just not say anything.
    I'm not at trying ot defend the mgmt team - I have plenty of beefs with them - and the wording of the actual email was quite terse, but the whole thing was made out to be MUCH worse than it really was. Most people internally acutally preferred to be notified via email as it was very private.

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  7. Thanks for clarifying the situation, I appreciate it!

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