This past week saw quite a few articles on Circuit City’s laying off 3,400 of their most experienced sales clerks; my two favorites were David Carr’s “The Media Equation” column entitled, Thousands are Laid Off: What’s New? and Maureen Rogers, Pink Slip blog post, Circuit City: Layoff Circuits on Overload.
In case you missed it, they “fired the cream of their work force, not even giving those employees a chance to re-apply immediately for their job at lower wages until after a cooling-off period of 10 weeks. In doing so, the company engaged in a kind of domestic outsourcing.”What they also succeeded in doing was destroying one employment brand and replacing it with it’s sinister twin. I wonder if the recruiting leaders at CC even put up a fight?
In his Times column, Carr wrote that “Circuit City seems to have forgotten that the customer interaction — the user interface…is their point of difference in an age when consumers can have perfect pricing information with the click of a mouse.” As Christopher Martin, Associate Professor of Journalism at Miami University noted, “In a service economy where all the books say you are supposed to put the customer first, Circuit City is doing exactly the opposite.”
In the same way, the rank-and-file employees are a company’s point of difference not the C-levels. Yet it appears as if this concept is lost on the Circuit City decision makers – on the Circuit City website is this gem:
Our Associates are our greatest assets. We expect every Associate to demonstrate that they respect and value others for their efforts, their knowledge, and the diversity that they bring.
For all the rhetoric accorded ethics and rusing in the ERE community, nowhere has anyone brought up the word “backbone” – as in where was the backbone of the head of Circuit City’s recruiting team when all this carnage was taking place?