I tried rewriting his email to live up to this promise:
- - -
We're cutting our workforce to strengthen Twitter as a company.
The team has been deciding how to best streamline Twitter, Vine, and Periscope to put their focus on the projects which will have the greatest impact. Moments, which we launched last week, is a great beginning. It's a peek into the future of how people will see what's going on in the world.
We plan to cut up to 336 people. This was a tough decision, and we'll offer each person a generous exit package and help finding a new job. Product and Engineering are going to make the most changes. Engineering will be smaller but remain the biggest percentage of the organization, and other departments will be cut in parallel.
This isn't easy. We'll honor those who we're losing with our service to all the people who use Twitter. We'll do it with a more purpose-built team. Thank you all for your trust and understanding here. As always, please reach out to me directly with any ideas or questions.
If you are writing a decisive message that can greatly impact many people's lives: write the decision first.
Don't "sandwich" the truth. Sandwiching only makes sense when the decision or the mistake is not of huge significance. Beating around the bush in matters of great import will always harm the sincerity of your words.
After you've stated clearly what the decision is, right after that, you can justify it however you wish.
Going by my twitter feed, they implemented the decision first, with people discovering they were locked out of their twitter accounts and RAS before the announcement was made.
Judging by the contents of this email: the goal might be to confound or confuse counter-arguments to the decision, limit the damage PR-wise (and stock wise), and above all, insulate the new executive staff from a groundswell of anger/hatred from the bottom.
My instincts as a writer, and maybe a bit as a human being, is that you shouldn't try to fool the people who support you. If the author of the email (probably not Dorsey) was a stronger writer, and perhaps free of some pressures, I'd like to think he or she could have both been fair to those under him or her, and also protected from their wrath.
I too would be very interested in seeing historical examples of leaders forced to write messages explaining tough decisions. Would you happen to have any?
The goal is for the employees to feel as if you ARE being honest, and that they have something positive to focus on that is not just plain disappointment and insecurity.
Plenty of corporate drones take this too far and focus too much on the sugar-coating to the point that only other top corporate drones think the email is a good one.
But I think Dorsey's passes the b.s. test (Most people's reactions, even those being fired isn't going to be "what a load of b.s.")
Could he be more direct? Yes. But it would come at a risk of coming off as callous and incosiderate.
Unfortunately I can't figure out what books I read and I'm having a hard time finding studies (just keep finding damn buzzfeed like article about using the sandwich). If someone else finds these sources or debunks them I would be greatly appreciated :)
Then he rewrites it focusing on what the person reading it is concerned about: themselves. The key was to focus on the questions a reader will ask, "How will this effect me?" and "What should I do?"
But for the most part it does lead with the decision being communicated, i.e. that there will be a "restructuring of our workforce", commonly understood to mean layoffs.
I think Dorsey's email is pretty crap-free. I think to the extent that he employs long forms or euphemisms, it's intentionally intended to communicate compassion.
Management is hard, because people are going to read any interpretation that they want into your actions, and there's almost always the potential of reading in a negative interpretation. You truly can't please everyone. All you can do is try to do the best, most reasonable thing, and keep as many people on your side as possible while doing it. There's probably a lot more people that would see "we're cutting" as crass than there are people that see "we're reorganizing" as patronizing.
There would be no reason to make disclaimers otherwise.
It's a form of the, "I'm not a racist, but...", style of argument.
The fairness is in the labeling (we do not want to unfairly label those who were not actually dishonest or unprofessional; sometimes mistakes do occur), not in the response to the behavior.
It did not assure me that there will be no more cuts in the near future. It will put fear in all twitter employees and they will be looking for work elsewhere.
"and other departments will be cut in parallel" what other departments? layoff announcement should be complete. This is an incomplete email about an incomplete decision.
"336" wtf, this email should talk in percentage, like, We plan to cut up to 1.4% of our workforce.
Complete bull (IMO)
I'm sure the guys being laid off appreciate their boss' rhetorical prowess.
we thought we would grow very fast and we hired accordingly. Turns out we didn't grow that fast so now we're firing accordingly.
Please don't be mad at us! If things work out as we hope they will with Moments and all the rest, we may want to hire you back in the future because you folks are not so shoddy after all.
I don't know what is meant by "generous exit package", but it may be enough to tide the employees over to their next job.
So is it a startup? Idk wtf a startup is but Twitter isn't a blue chip.
Kids: do not use either if you care about the judgment of your elders.
Bonus protip: until you vest, you should care.
It might be pragmatic to care about the judgment of one's ignorant elders, when the ignorant have power over you, but in no other sense should one care about such opinions.
Or if you're a VC, it's "tech company whose current valuation is based on future value"
That said, it's clear they are struggling to stay alive and that is a trait of many start ups.
Wikipedia defines startup as a new business in the form of a company, a partnership or temporary organization designed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model.
Not sure where an exact "point" is (if one even exists) but would seem that Twitter (a nearly ten year old company with revenues of $1.4B) no longer fits that definition.
Shit got real, gotta drop, 336 deep. Mainly ingenieros. Don't get shook, all drops get $. Keep keeping on. Questions? Holla @ur boy. -J
Keep ya heads up and Eyes on the prize fam. Stay woke & drop a RT/fave so I know its real. #TweepsGoDeep #GottaGoLeanToRegulate
They're going to let me be CEO again, but as part of the deal I had to fire a bunch of people. Mostly engineers since I'm told there are many of them who cost too much and don't seem to impact the top line. Please let's all be nice about the whole thing, so it doesn't turn into a PR disaster.
I have seen this exact thing happen in a company I used to work for. It was the catalyst that made me look for another job.
I'm not saying this is the case with Twitter, I don't know anything about Twitter as a company.
This probably doesn't happen in smaller startups, but I've worked in several medium and large size companies and have seen it happen.
It doesn't matter if you're getting along with your coworkers, they aren't the ones making the layoff decisions.
Those engineers are usually fairly vocal about obstacles. Managers should learn to interpret this signal, suss out the root cause (usually easy) and eliminate it (usually hard).
Twitter might actually be better served by promoting some set of the folks that landed on the cut list.
Well in this case it maybe what happened. They are eliminating the root cause -- the actors ;-)
Basically always think twice and watch your back. HR is not your friend to confide in, being disgruntled and pointing to issues need to be done carefully. In an irrational organization it will backfire -- you are labeled as a disgruntled trouble-maker.
They might have written some of the best code in a feature that management doesn't want anymore (Twitter API anyone?) but that doesn't necessarily translate in being part of those that are kept.
Maybe the dev lived in a town where they are closing the whole office and relocation is too much $$$ compared to a package. Maybe she just hasn't been with Twitter long enough to shine outside of her immediate team (who're all being cut). Maybe the folks drawing up lists had to make some concessions to keep some of their friends employed (consciously or otherwise.)
Maybe they had some stock options or something they were holding onto??
As a logical exercise, if we assign some risk to your employer terminating you (I imagine especially for publicly traded companies one could come up with some more-accurate-than-guess-formula), then there would be a point at which the risk of your current employer would outweigh the risk of leaving to find another job. Or, another way, the risk-reward between two different jobs could be measured (e.g. working at risky Startup X vs stable Retail Bank Y).
http://www.stern.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/assets/document... "Estimating the Probability of Bankruptcy"
One of the things companies do when growth stops and they want to increase profits is lay people off (it's kinda a classic MBA move).
Case in point - Target's acquisition of the Zellers leases on their locations.
I had over a dozen people I know who were offered pretty lucrative jobs there. I know another half dozen who balked at their offers (including myself). The people who went were only there about 6 months. Right away, there were signs this was doomed.
For several months all I heard and read was stories about how this was not going very well at all. Two of my friends who took jobs started looking as rumors swept through their departments. They both found employment in short order, right before the roof collapsed and Target announced over 1,700 layoffs.
If you decided to wait it out, you were now entering a market were you had a lot of competition for your same job at any number of businesses in the area. Thus, reducing the likelihood of finding something quickly. I have several friends who still haven't found a job six months later.
I went through the first dot com bust with two startups. Because of that scary experience, I've always been leery of my continuing employment anywhere. I'm become somewhat adept at reading signs and realizing when something is about to go tits up. As such, I interview constantly, and always have an exit strategy for any position I take, whether its a perm gig or a contract gig. I constantly look over my shoulder and its served me well.
Of the people I knew well when I worked there, the more talented ambitious has been gone for 6 months already.
Interesting that they call out hard to recruit engineering roles specifically - I bet every recruitment agent who has twitter guys and gals in his list is cold calling the ones still remaining.
What do you say... you do here?
If anyone is ever fired or laid off, the CEO should be immediately replaced.
Or alternatively, no one should ever be fired.
Twitter no longer requires the services of 336 current employees. Twitter must do what is best for Twitter and what will lead to optimal financial measures over the next 12 months.
The executives of Twitter chose who to fire based on the belief that the remaining employees will lead to the best products and therefore greatest profits.
HR will provide people getting fired with a list of open positions elsewhere. Twitter will give fired employees some money to help them survive and make non-fired employees feel better about their own situation.
Firing people is unpleasant for the executives of Twitter.
Please believe that you can affect the decisions that are made by executives at Twitter.
"Roadmap" -> plan, strategy
"Structural change" -> internal reorganizing, lay-offs
"Nimbler" -> fewer employees, which we hope will make us become more agile
"Streamlined" -> ambiguous and essentially meaningless by itself
"Impactful" -> revenue- and/or growth-generating, maybe "important"
I'm as much a hater of overuse of jargon as the next person, but for his intended audience I don't think this is an example of that. If one doesn't know what any of those words mean, then "Hello, welcome to Hacker News."
It's like the difference between legalese and regular English.
I'll give you "structural change" though, which I think is just a euphemism for layoffs.
Legalese is also more precise, but also violates the "give it to you straight" principle.
Content free filler might be a more polite way to put it.
I could demonstrate the uselessness of content free filler by inserting (VLM took a breath here) (VLM fixed a typo here) all through my post above, but all it would do it boost word count and water down the core message, kinda like .... yeah.
There is another story on the front page at this moment about training a neural network to generate clickbait... I'd like to see a trained NN that eats CorporateSpeak and outputs English. It smells simple; at least at a low performance level it just has to pattern match and eat "content free filler" or whatever you want to call it.
*Perhaps with the exception of "roadmap", which is actually a better word choice than "plan" or "strategy" as it connotes a long journey ahead.
We're cutting 336 people from our workforce to strengthen the company.
We are deciding how to streamline Twitter, Vine, and Periscope to focus on projects with the greatest impact.
Moments, which we launched last week, is a great beginning. It's a peek into the future of discovery.
We'll offer each person a generous exit package and help finding a new job.
Engineering will be smaller but remain the biggest percentage of the organization, and other departments will be cut in parallel.
Thank you all for everything. As always, please reach out to me directly with anything.
We're cutting 336 people from our workforce. Sorry for that. We'll offer each person a generous exit package and help finding a new job.
336 people will be fired. We hope it brings our stock price back up.
Stock in the dumps, 336 chumps are fired.
336 people out. We'll compensate.
Error: No payroll records for your username. ("We fixed the glitch!"
> I've been impacted by $TWTR's layoffs. This is how I found out this morning.
[screenshot of iOS account showing inaccessible @twitter.com account]
Stock in the dumps, firing 336 chumps.
> Moments, which we launched last week, is a great beginning.
> Moments, which we launched last week, illustrates the problem. It missed the mark.
I honestly don't think Jack or Ev think Moments, in its current incarnation, embodies what Twitter is or should be.
* "Reach out" - I doubt that Mr. Dorsey wants people literally reaching out to him.
* "Streamline" - literal physical air flow is probably not involved here, and it's not even a particularly good metaphor.
> "Engineering will be smaller but remain the biggest percentage of the organization"
As an Engineer, you don't want to hear that corporate is slashing just your team, and that it's affects the entire company. You're right, it doesn't matter to those who were laid off, but it does to the people who aren't.
> "Thank you all for your trust and understanding here"
Same thing. You're right that someone who is being laid off doesn't care or want to understand. They're probably really asking those who are staying on, and losing their colleagues, to understand why those people are leaving and that it isn't a statement about a perceived lack of value in the engineering team in general.
Some of this is just human. Not wanting to hurt people's feelings is real. Wanting to get that across is human.
I mean, you have this kind of thing in everyday life, without lawyers and CEOs. Want to hang out after work? Sorry, my wife would kill me. Little lies & euphemisms are human.