Dismissal by txt message


I listened to an Australian news item a week or so back whereby a decision to dismiss an employee via sms was upheld as legally acceptable means of dismissal. Legally acceptable or otherwise I fail to see the logic in doing so.

A decision to dismiss an employee should not be taken lightly. The decision should be based upon evidence that is beyond doubt. The breach leading to the dismissal must be such that there is evidence of a policy stating such actions may result in dismissal. Assuming such a chain of evidence exists and assuming there has been some dialogue between a manager and an employee, then I fail to see the point in dismissal by sms. Surely the same decision could be communicated in a face to face conversation?

The issue as I see it is not so much the channel of communication as the lack of communication. A conversation is not conducted via sms. A person being dismissed in such an off hand manner is likely to focus considerable negative energy on the process of dismissal rather than the reason for the dismissal. This negative energy can shield them from reality.

Using online processes to dismiss people opens an organisation to an online attack. It suggests that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If you can dismiss me via sms then surely I can use sms to malign your organisation. Again what is the point in creating such friction and discontent? A conversation to dismiss someone takes no more than ten minutes. Do we not have ten minutes to spend with someone with who we have gone through a process of discovery about the impact of their behaviour? Or is it that managers are using sms to avoid potential conflict? If that is so, it is really a case of managers becoming lazy, and lazy managers are a barrier to organisational effectiveness.

As a society we are in danger of losing our ability to have a face to face conversation. This goes to the core of our being, our uniqueness. Our creativity and our ability to use language in speech is a key in enabling us to become an advanced society and avoid spending our time running through the jungle with our knuckles dragging on the ground.

When we fail to fully utilise the key attributes and characteristics that provide us with our strengths we risk lowering ourselves to the level of our weaknesses. Then as a species we end up on the slippery pathway to obliviation.

On another television program I saw a trailer for a program suggesting apes were becoming more intelligent. Well off course they are, common sense suggest that will occur. Its a natural process of being exposed to new environments and experiences and learning new ways of coping and survival. I’m not really interested in how intelligent apes become, on the other hand I am interested in how intelligent humans become. I wonder sometimes are we learning from our exposure to new environments and experiences or we simply dumbing down our species to meet the criteria of the lowest common denominator?

Is the act of management in dismissing someone via sms a sign of increased intelligence and creativity or is it a sign of someone acting out their weaknesses?

Those are my thoughts for the day.

JOhn Coxon

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About John Coxon

Principal consultant for John Coxon & Associates, a management consultancy working with boards and management teams in healthcare, aged care and not for profit organisations to develop effective strategic planning processes and social enterprise business plans
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