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By Joseph Ssebunya

I saw the clouds gathering in the sky and I ignored the signal. I guess the thought of exit was unwelcome to me. I thought I was hard working. I was wrong. When their time to strike me down came, I had to make a decision to resign and receive my End of Service Benefits (ESB) or await a termination without benefits.

You can guess what my decision was. And yes, I was expelled- not proud of it but it became a lesson for me. I was forced to resign within 45days; managers prefer to force you to resign instead of terminate. Of course, if you decline to resign, they push you away.

The issues of letting go of employees is so contentious that management literature has evolved with new terminologies, mostly to ease off the emotional underpinnings associated with a dismissal. Coarse words like termination, retrenchment, expulsion and dismissal have been largely replaced by ‘guided retirement decision’, ‘layoff’, ‘employee exit’….

Managers often push out those they do not agree with- not necessarily those who are incompetent. Believe you me this is the case most of the time. If you are a mediocre or a non performer but then a loyal employee to the decision maker, especially if you’re his conduit of the grapevine that be bases his decision and uses to entrench his position, no one will ever shake you. Then be a high record performer and show ambition, you will have your wings chopped off.

For whatever reason, an employee can leave a work post. My concern is on how the movement is managed. As a manager, you need a work team that believes in you. As a manager you have the power over your subordinates and can use that power to hasten their demise or help them make smooth transitions, even if they may not be your ‘worshipers’.

The workplace has sentimental connections that for some people workmates become family. Peter Druker refers to an efficient organization as ‘an organized friendship’. Yes, at work we get our friends, business partners, marital partners and family. These are things of intrinsic value and a good manager ought to exploit them in team building. A branch manager in a local brewery committed suicide after receiving a termination. He had a rich CV and could easily join a better job. Yet he committed suicide. Why? The explanation lies in the intrinsic value people attach to heir workplaces.

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When an employee is dismissed, especially under unclear circumstances, this is what happens that night:

1) he may commit suicide or retire home and bemoan his misfortunes and after prepares his CV for job search; only the dismissed soul is condemned and the company survives. This is option for a pacifist.
2) he may martial up resources to seek legal counsel and open a lawsuit against unfair termination that will expose the weaknesses of the company and the supervisor with reputation damage, business interruptions and big payouts. In many cases, lawsuits identify management gaps that caused the unfair termination;

3) at the shock of his dismissal, five of his colleagues check their files of credentials to ensure they are intact that night or go to the café and review their CVs adding new achievements, or check the job column in the papers of the past week, or/and start a subterranean and subversive campaign against the employer.

Lawsuits, payouts, reputation damage or possible suicide of expelled staff do not affect embattled organizations as much as the conscious and subconscious sabotage in all its subversive forms by the remaining staff. Motivation is a factor of production; how much a company will receive on the left side of its statement of comprehensive income always depends on the factor of motivation- a very fluid and expensive target to achieve. Especially in the technological age where much of the work requires ‘the mind more than the hand’, management does well to think through decisions involving layoffs.


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