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Friday 12 March 2010

How many times have you ruined someone's life recently?

Alistair Darling Unveils The 2009 Budget
I enjoy working. I have a reasonably responsible job in a large corporation that is kind enough to let me work relatively flexibly around the various demands of my children. I run a medium to large-ish department. I deal with a wide variety of people from literally all around the globe. Every now and then I even get to visit them in interesting places (although ironically I now very reluctantly do more of this than I did in my previous, childless existence, when I would have jumped at the chance). I have a lot of people that either directly, or indirectly work for me (yes, I have "layers" underneath me!) - some of whom I have never even met. However, the vast majority I have known for a long time - some since I first started straight out of university many moons ago.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the last couple of years have been not been an easy time economically, and the company I work for has not been immune to the global downturn. I have therefore become more adept than I ever could have wanted or imagined to be at making someone redundant. I had to do it again recently, so it is all rather fresh in my mind.

I have to confess that I have never personally been made redundant, so I cannot truly understand the feelings of someone sitting on the opposite side of the table. However, I have to give credit to all the people I have had to give the bad news to over the past few years that they have been gracious and professional about it at all times. That's not to say that they won't have gone home and screamed, shouted, cried, drunk themselves into a stupor etc, but they didn't start throwing things at me, for which I was eternally grateful. I certainly don't know if I would have taken the news as well.

Occasionally I hear what has happened to some of these former colleagues. The majority have quickly found other jobs in similar roles, for which I am thankful. For some, it has even proved a blessing, as they have worked out what they really want to do in life and have used the opportunity (and, I have to say, extremely generous redundancy package) to go in a completely different direction. However, at the back of my mind, there are always one or two that I still wonder about. Inevitably, these tend to be the people that don't stay in touch, that don't post status updates on "LinkedIn", that don't boast about they are fine now, thank you very much. I know of one colleague that, two years on, is still surviving from one temporary job to another. He has a wife and four children to support.

"Sorry" does not even come close.

It's at times like these that I really hate being the "boss".


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