Nary a day goes by that I don’t run across something in the newspaper or on a TV newscast that boggles my mind, drops my jaw, and challenges any concept of conventional wisdom.
I constantly see absurd decisions being made by corporate leaders who, a year later, are receiving severance packages consisting of hundreds of millions of dollars and benefits that easily rival the most outrageous lottery winnings.
For instance, Circuit City, the nation’s #2 consumer electronics retailer behind Best Buy, has announced plans to fire 3,400 retail workers because they’re making too much money! Yes, the word was “FIRE,” and the reason was exactly as stated above. They’re also going to fire about 130 corporate information-technology employees.
Let’s take a closer look and, as we do, ponder the facts and think about the possibility of whether you would consider such a strategic move if you were in charge of this organization.
Circuit City will absolutely save a great deal of money as they replace those they fire by hiring lower-paid workers! There is positively no question about that fact. However, I do have another question. I’m pretty sure that Circuit City sells calculators. I’m not quite as sure if they know how to use them.
While they stand to savor a substantial savings, let’s contemplate what they stand to lose.
Consider these potential speed bumps:
How will this strategy affect their customer service levels as they replace 3,400 seasoned, well-trained employees with novice, inexperienced, less-paid stand-ins who lack product knowledge?
What caliber of new employee can they expect to attract after demonstrating how they’ve treated loyal employees who have put forth an effort to grow and prosper? Can these replacements anticipate pay raises and promotions or will achievement equate to possible termination? What’s the incentive for these rookies to strive for excellence? If there is no incentive, what level of service can we anticipate as consumers?
How about the remaining store associates who were not fired? What did this do to their morale, productivity, and aspirations of a career in their chosen field of endeavor? I can’t wait to visit one of their stores to be greeted by this bunch of “happy campers.”
By the way, those being fired will get severance packages and may apply for any open positions after 10 weeks. What’s the message here? “Even though you were fired, you’re welcome to come back as your dismissal had nothing to do with your performance. However, you’ll be returning at a lower pay rate — equivalent to those we recently hired with less experience and product knowledge than you have.” How many do you think will return?
When you consider the escalating cost of advertising, what do you think Circuit City will have to invest in order to compensate for the tremendous negative publicity they’re currently receiving in newspapers, magazines, radio and television newscasts, and Internet reports? This story spread world-wide within minutes of its release and received very little positive response. It’s difficult to calculate the loss of public trust and image. How many customers are now willing to return to Circuit City? Some will question the level of service they can expect. Others will express dismay in the treatment of those fired. Some will challenge the wisdom of leadership decision-making skills. Many will simply decide to “wait and see.” All because Circuit City didn’t pro-actively utilize their very own HP 12C Platinum 25th Anniversary Edition Financial Calculator.
I have one last question: Do you think the Best Buy CEO will send the Circuit City CEO a formal “Thank You” note or will he simply remain safely hidden in the wings serenely smiling as he surveys the most recent stock market results? We’ll never know.