‘Hello, what’s this?’ I asked myself as the email alert told me I had mail. In my twilight days at work emails have become few and far between. Mostly they break down into three categories: stuff I won’t read; stuff I should read; and, stuff I want to read.
The subject line said: ‘Leaving arrangements’. Definitely in the ‘stuff I should read’ category.
It was from someone I have never met introducing themselves as my HR point of contact for my departure arrangements. In essence my spirit guide on my journey out of here. I am sure the person meant well but no where in the lengthy email did they once talk about anything other than the mundane aspects of my departure. It was all leave records and IT kit and surrendering ID and all sorts of other minutiae that will occupy me from here on in.
I couldn’t help but think would it really have hurt to have said somewhere at the start something like:
We have not met and I am sorry that our first contact should be about your leaving arrangements. It must be a difficult time for you and I will do all that I can to make things as straightforward as possible. The rest of this email deals with some of the administrative tasks we will need to complete. Take your time to read it through and let me know if there’s anything you would like to talk about. I am here to help.
I will be in touch next week to catch up with you. In the meantime don’t hesitate to call if there’s anything I can do to help.
Would that have been so hard? Instead the email dived straight in with, ‘I understand that you are under notice of redundancy …’ For anyone in my position that feels pretty gratuitous. It felt a little bit like the scene in The Life of Brian where the condemned prisoners are queuing in the prison on the day of execution.
‘Crucifixion or stoning?’ asks Michael Palin’s probation officer-like Roman officer. He is absolutely bamboozled when Eric Idle’s character claims that it’s neither in his case as he’s been banished to a tropical island. ‘No, just kidding,’ he says. ‘Crucifixation really.’ The Roman relaxes as the world resumes its proper shape: ‘Just pick up your cross on the way out …’
I was strongly tempted to write back and say, ‘You are mistaken I am not being made redundant. Rather I am being sent on a fact-finding mission to Hawaii. I’ll be back in 2 years, could you book my flights?’
But I wished I had when I later got an email concerning one of the team I manage who is also joining me in employment oblivion. It was from another colleague detailing a whole load of procedural requisites surrounding a request my team member had made. A request whose simplicity had masked a vast unsuspected hinterland of complexity for which correspondent is clearly the enthusiastic tour guide.
I felt like saying sometimes you really only do need, ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And not a NASA flight manual of process that produces ‘maybe’.
What the arrival of the email clearly means though is that I am about to begin rolling down the slope towards the exit gathering speed along the way.
Time to really get that plan together.