MD: You're being placed into the accelerated one-year analyst program.
Analyst: You mean I'm being fired?
MD: No, you're being placed into the new accelerated one-year analyst program and will be paid through August.
Analyst: I'm being fired.
MD: There will be nothing on your record indicating you were fired. It'll say you were in the one-year analyst program.
Analyst: I'm being fired.
Unless you are a sick bastard, firing people is no fun, even when they deserve it. It is double no-fun when you have to fire a colleague and friend simply because business has fallen into the shitter and your group/division/investment bank has to cut payroll in the face of reduced revenue prospects, like we face today. It is triple no-fun when that colleague is some bright-eyed youngster fresh out of college or business school who still has stars in his or her eyes about the industry and their formerly bright future within it.
That doesn't mean it doesn't happen in investment banking. I have seen it up close and personal. Sometimes there is even a good reason to fire perfectly competent, inexpensive junior bankers instead of expensive deadweight Managing Directors. (Less often than you might hope, in my experience, but that's politics for you.)
But if you're gonna do it, if you're gonna dash the hopes and prospects of some eager young lad or lass your firm (and maybe even you personally) just hired less than 12 months ago, have the cojones to do it right. Don't lie and dissemble. Don't dodge and weave with the truth, telling your young charge he or she has just been "promoted" to a one-year program when they were hired for two.
Be a man. Not a weak-kneed, lily-livered, unprincipled, ball-less, gutless, prevaricating, backstabbing, motherfucking pussy.
Tell them straight: I'm sorry, you're being fired because we have to reduce our costs in the face of declining business. It is no reflection on you, your talents, or your future prospects. It is simply a business decision we have decided to take. I am sure you will do well in your future career, and I wish you the best of luck.
Look them in the eye. Be honest (or as honest as the inevitable Human Resources weasel in the room will let you be). Shake their hand, if they offer it. And try to remember through your discomfort and embarrassment that it is them who is getting fired, not you. Like I said, be a man. Do the right thing.
That is the right way to do it. That is why I find this report leaking out of Goldman Sachs to be so despicable. Who the fuck do they think they're kidding? Not the analysts getting canned, surely. Not those analysts' potential future employers. And certainly not anyone on Wall Street or among their investors who has not suffered a frontal lobotomy recently.
There is no form of public humiliation excruciating enough, no corporal punishment which causes lasting enough damage to serve as adequate remedy for such low, cowardly, pusillanimous behavior as this. Whoever thought up this stupid, cowardly, insulting plan should be taken to the steps of the New York Stock Exchange, disemboweled, and hung on a stick to dry, along with the senior executives who approved it and the Managing Directors who executed it. Recently laid-off investment bankers below the rank of Vice President should be issued a blanket invitation to come throw rocks and piss on their desiccated remains. Wives and mistresses of the miscreants should have their Henri Bendel store charge cards confiscated and their heads shaved, like captured collaborators in WWII. Their children should be forced to attend state schools and work for the Peace Corps.
Readers are invited to mail other suggestions to the senior management at Goldman Sachs at their leisure.
I feel nauseated. It's almost enough to make me turn in my keys to the executive washroom.
P.S. — Helen, just in case you were wondering, this is a rant.
© 2008 The Epicurean Dealmaker. All rights reserved.