Saturday, September 29, 2007

How the ax falls, Filipino-style

According to a colleague of mine, the following is apparently an "ISO-certified" practice of eliminating redundancies in an organisation in the Philippines:

-- 48 hours before shutting down the operation, SWAT teams in janitorial disguise conduct metal detector/security checks in the premises.
-- 24 hours before shutting down the operation, maintenance is instructed to ship out breakable/sharp objects for "area cleaning"
-- zero hour: right before shift closes, managers are called to a room to be told the news. As the workmen leave their stations to enter the locker room, they are called for an assembly where the announcement is made.

Meanwhile:
Barricades have been set up further down the road to the factory entrance, where workers for the next shift are blocked. The closure is timed so that the known "labour leaders" of the factory are not present.

Back at the plant:
Soothing talks and non-sharp, odd giveaways/remembrances are handed to the stunned men going off shift. Some head to the lockers and a strange banging sound is heard. But of course, nothing that can be fashioned into a weapon is on hand. In less than an hour, people are wandering out of the factory, odd giveaways in hand. Psychologists, mob experts, weapons experts and what not were part of this orchestrated effort.

(Un)fortunately, I will be relocating to Shenzhen soon, so I will not have the opportunity to experience this first-hand. Suffice it to say that damage control for the inevitable trainwreck is usually delivered with a heavy dose of euphemistic jargons: resource rationalisation, productivity optimisation, reorganisation, et cetera. No matter how you spin it, a lay-off is a lay-off; cost-cutting is cost-cutting. Painting a rosy picture when it's not will either lull existing employees into a false sense of security or raise their skepticisms of the company's motives. It would have been better if the management opts to be upfront about things and outlines the challenges it's facing. So any cost-cutting or lay-off exercise can be defended as a painful yet necessary way for the company to remain competitive and keep people employed.

Related post:
8 steps to transforming an organisation


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1 comment:

Alex said...

Things were just as bad in Singapore. SOme years back, I worked in a dot.com startup which went belly up and they laid off everyone without a severance package. What's worse is that they have the cheeks to ask laid-off employees to abide by the non-compete clause in their contract!

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