Solving the Case of the Deceptive Soft Sell
You and your colleagues are nervous. Sales have been declining for months and you see evidence of budget tightening all over the place—the fruit and pastries have disappeared from the coffee stations, accountants are going over expense reports with magnifying glasses, and managers are slow to replace people who leave the company. Instant messages fly around the office; everyone wants to know if anyone has heard anything about layoffs.
The job market in your area is weak, and you know you might have to sell your house (in one of the weakest housing markets in memory) and move your family out of state if you need to find another position in your field. You’re ready to cope with the job loss, but you need as much time as possible. You breathe a sigh of relief when the following item from the CEO appears on the company’s internal blog.
With news of workforce adjustments elsewhere in our industry, we realize many of you are concerned about the possibility here. I’d like to reassure all of you that we remain confident in the company’s fundamental business strategy, and the executive team is examining all facets of company operations to ensure our continued financial strength.
The message calms your fears. Should it?
Bovée, C. L., & Thill, J. V. (2018). Ethics Detective Solving the Case of the Deceptive Soft Sell, Ch. 11 (p. 303). Business Communication Today (14th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
A month later, the CEO announces a layoff of 20% of the company’s workforce—nearly 700 people. You’re shocked by the news because you felt reassured by the blog posting from last month. In light of what happened, you retrieve a copy of the newsletter and reread the CEO’s message. Does it seem ethical now? Why, or why not? If you had been in charge of writing this newsletter item and your hands were tied because you couldn’t come out and announce the layoffs yet, how would you have rewritten the message?
How will the information learned be helpful to you in your personal or professional life?
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