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This happened in my sister’s old workplace and is told as she told it to me. Names have been omitted to protect the guilty and innocent alike, and because they are not really essential to the story.

My sister used to work in a small department of a larger corporation. Things were going smoothly and quietly. The staff was a group of mostly middle-aged or elderly women who knew their job and didn’t need anyone to tell them how to do it. (There was also a young man at the site. We’ll get back to him.)

One day their manager retired and upper management hired a new one – a young woman with new ideas on how to organize the department. This, of course, didn’t go down too well with the staff who had worked there for a lifetime and knew their work, and certainly didn’t need some new upstart with modern ideas telling them how to do.

(OK, maybe there’s guilt enough to go around for what happened. I only know my sister’s version of the story. I have also known my sister since I was born, and we share a lot of genes. Let’s just say, there may have been a lack of flexibility and understanding on both sides. 😉 )

Anyway, the manager decided that the best and/or easiest way to reorganize the department would be to get rid of the “old hags”. So she summoned one of them to her office, told her that she “wasn’t effective enough”, and issued a formal warning that, if she didn’t improve, she would be fired. True enough, one month later it was of course found that the employee hadn’t improved her efficiency, and she was laid off. At the same time, the next employee was summoned to the office and warned for “lack of efficiency”.

This repeated itself over the next few months and one of those fired was my sister. New, younger and more “flexible” staff were hired to fill the vacancies and soon the manager was almost rid of the old staff. (Fortunately, my sister quickly found another job.)

Suicide GunThen one day, the young man I mentioned above walked into the manager’s office. He had found a new job and wanted to resign his position. “But, but, but…”, exclaimed the manager, “I had big plans for you! I wanted you to help me build up this department!”

“Maybe”, was his reply, “but it’s not a very pleasant place to work, when you fire all my colleagues!”

If there is a moral to this story, it is: You can choose who you lay off, but you can’t choose who you will keep!