Viewing entries in


Drawing a Pig

Sorry, couldn't decide, they're all showing different angles and are just too darn cute! Thanks, Google Images. :-)

Sorry, couldn't decide, they're all showing different angles and are just too darn cute!
Thanks, Google Images. :-)

Following from yesterday's post, an exercise we did during Pauline's session was drawing a pig.  

I'm going to give you a few moments to find a piece of paper, and take a pen or pencil to it now. 

Go ahead.  

All done?  

This is a fun little exercise to show how your drawing might represent your leadership style.  

If you draw your pig at the top of the page, you're likely optimistic and positive. The middle page is more factual or realistic, and if your swine is at the bottom of the page, oh my, you're a pessimist.  

If your big is facing left, you're likely friendly and traditional. If it looks straight ahead, well, you're a direct kinda guy. Facing right means you're probably innovative (and perhaps left-handed).  

Now, how much detail does your pig possess? More detail equals analytical, cautious, and suspicious tendencies. Broad strokes are a sign for emotions and risk-taking.  

Size also matters: the bigger you've drawn the ears, the better a listener you probably are. And those with big tails have great sex lives, apparently.*

*Use this exercise with your teams at your own peril! We had a lot of fun with it though. 



How Leaders Communicate


How Leaders Communicate

Toastmasters - "Where Leaders are Made" - is an organization that's been helping people improve communication skills since the 1920s. I've been a member since 2008 and always recommend it to expats arriving in the States. Weekly meetings with a group of people dedicated to developing their public speaking and presentation ability can help expats not only advance at work and be seen as a leader, it's also a good first source for budding friendships. 

The following are some notes I took during a presentation by Toastmasters' past international president, Pauline Shirley, DTM. 

"If clothes make the man or the woman, then certainly communications make the leader." 

Leaders are Inclusive

Don't treat your teams like exclusive circles where only a certain few have access - you may be cutting off dramatically valuable and creative input from "outsiders".  

Leaders Praise

Everybody likes to hear about a job well done. Some cultures are more comfortable with one-on-one praise, some delight in open recognition. Either way - mention the things that are going well and right, the things you want to see more of.  

Leaders Share Energy

Positive energy, motivation, and enthusiasm makes things happen. Sometimes leaders have to find the silver lining and share the excitement so it can spill over to the team. Be that light, and if necessary, fake it 'til you feel it.  

Leaders Critique

Supportive, constructive feedback works on improving the situation or task, never the person. Pointing out flaws is helpful for the end-goal, be that employee engagement or happy customers. Allow your team to make mistakes, learn from them, and help them rise to the next level.  

Leaders Seek Out The Best

Especially in a volunteer organization like Toastmasters, this advice has come in handy many times. Don't wait for volunteers or give orders: approach the person you've been watching and tell them why you think they are the right person for the task you have in mind.  

Leaders Use Positive Reframing

Yes, a spade is a spade. But as leaders, you receive attention, and it is important to mind your vocabulary.  

Leaders Use the Phone

as well as face-to-face meetings. They don't just rely on impersonal short email messages to get things done. Every communication channel has its uses, but face-to-face - even through video conferencing - still gets the most done.  

Leaders are Humble

Toastmasters is promoting the concept of Service Leadership. Coming from an attitude of "how can I help others?" rewards leaders with feelings of satisfaction and confidence. That means leaders facilitate the credit for the team, and don't take the accolades for themselves. 


Image by The Old Brit, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



4 Tips to Increase Insights for Problem-Solving

Pic Credit: Typography by Jeff Jarvis on

Pic Credit: Typography by Jeff Jarvis on

How do you solve problems?  

People with different Type preferences may use different means:

  • Do you use logical analysis?  (e.g. introverted Thinking)
  • Discuss it with your friends / colleagues?  (e.g. extraverted Feeling)
  • Go to past experiences?  (e.g. introverted Sensing)
  • Brainstorm multiple alternatives? (e.g. extraverted Intuiting)

But what if your usual way of problem-solving doesn't work? After all, as has been attributed to Einstein: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them."  

From David Rock's "Your Brain At Work"

However, with the amount of change today in how business is done, "noncreative" people increasingly run into brand-new problems, problems with no procedures to follow, no obvious answers, and where solutions from similar situations don't work. For example, what's the rule for reducing the production cost of a product you don't understand, one that is manufactured in China, serviced from India, delivered into Europe, and managed by people who have never met? What's needed here is not a logical solution, but one that recombines knowledge (the maps in your brain) in a whole new way. And that's called an insight.

For example, and if you read on the answer will be revealed to you, take a simple word puzzle: What does H I J K L M N O stand for?

Take a moment to figure it out. 

How are you trying to solve this puzzle?

  • Is your brain going straight to possible acronyms?
  • Trying to find explanations you've heard before?
  • Are you googling it (which is another way of asking your friends)? 

Either way - it's hard to break existing thought patterns, isn't it. To allow for more insights to happen, we have to go into our right brain hemisphere, and that has more chances of coming online when we stop or more analytical prefrontal cortex of butting in.

Here are some tips: 

1. Be in a good mood

Happy subjects in Jung-Beeman's research solved more puzzles using insight than unhappy people using logic.  If you're not in a good mood, try smiling or allow yourself a 3-minute video of whatever you find humorous. 

2. Lighten up

Focusing on the details and sinking your teeth deeper into the intricacies of the problem won't help you solve it, on the contrary. Better: think "big picture", or 10,000 foot overview. If you go into the details, you're less able to tap into the holistic goodness of the right anterior temporal lobe that helps pull different ideas together. This don't-sweat-the-small-stuff approach also helps with

3. Avoid distractions

Jung-Beeman's research also showed that your brain sends a signal right before the insight reaches your consciousness. Subjects closed their eyes as if to shut out any distracting input to help let the insight reach them.  

4. Practice mindfulness

From David Rock's Your Brain At Work: 

Here's what Beeman found. People who have more insights don't have better vision, they are not more determined to find a solution, they don't focus harder on the problem, and they are not necessarily geniuses. The "insight machines," those whom Beeman can pick based on brain scans before an experiment, are those who have more awareness of their internal experience. They can observe their own thinking, and thus can change how they think. These people have better cognitive control and can access a quieter mind on demand. 

In other words, if you needed yet another reason why meditation and taking mental breaks from beeping cell phones is good for you, a reason that goes beyond health and wellness that might actually benefit your job - this is it. 

And you know what else is super healthy for you and you've heard it a thousand times? Drinking water. Not sugar-water or poppy sodas - water. Incidentally, that's what the letter in the alphabet from H t(w)o O stand for. Let's pour ourselves a glass and toast to that. 


10 Strategies for Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable Conference Calls


10 Strategies for Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable Conference Calls

I know - "Enjoyable Conference calls" sounds like an oxymoron.  

That's going to change.  

From my own experience and having seen the same patterns repeat when working with international teams, below are quick-fire strategies that when implemented will improve EVERYBODY's opinion about conference calls, as well as increase their effectiveness. 

10 Guidelines for Effective, Efficient, and Enjoyable Conference Calls

1. Only invite people who really need to be there.  

If you need to keep others in the loop for their information, that's what email is for. You can help your manager stop micro-managing and free up his / her agenda by sending him / her the notes. He / she will thank you for it. 

2. Figure out an agenda and stick to it.

If that means the call only has to be 15 minutes - great! Stay on topic, and cut people off when their time is up. Yes, this will take some getting used to, but everybody will get to practice their prioritization skills.

Consider adding "sticking to allotted times" as a performance review goal for those who need extra encouragement. 

3a. Share the agenda at least 24 hours in advance.  

People are different - some like to improvise, some like to avoid uncertainty and plan ahead. Some like to think out loud, some like to read up or reflect prior. Respect people's cultural and personality type differences and create an environment where everyone can shine and play to their strengths - that included knowing and sharing an agenda in advance.  

Yes, this may be in conflict with #2, because communication styles are not always direct and to the point, but you can circumvent that by making yourself available for people to contact you with their comments when they're ready to do so.  

3b. If necessary, separate "information gathering", "processing", and "decision-making" calls with sufficient lead / think times in between.

Since you're now sticking to agenda points, the whole conference call time will probably be the same as if trying to fit it all into one hour anyway - with better results, because everyone had time to reflect and review. 

4. Convene and cancel conference calls with at least 3 hours notice. 

This will probably make you chuckle, and I know it's not always doable, but trust me - not respecting your team members' time is a sure-fire way to get on their naughty list. Don't schedule or cancel calls willy-nilly, it's disrespectful. They prepared for that call, they maybe got up early or stayed late for that call, so not showing up or five-minute-warning oopsies should NOT be an option. 

Perhaps institute a "cancel jar" - everyone who cancels meetings fewer than x hours in advance has to get healthy snacks for local team members or buy the first round at Karaoke or something. Have some fun with that.  

5. Consider having video conferences instead. 

Especially when working with remote or international teams, seeing everybody's faces helps  

a) increase a sense of connection, and  

b) commitment to individuals' action items.  

You need to see that who you're dealing with is a person. Remember my post on in-groups and how dopamine and oxytocin make you more likely to collaborate with strangers? If you don't know your colleagues offshore, it's easy to think of them as robot-chickens. They're people, too. With families. And dinner dates. 

6. Rotate inconvenient times.

The world is a large place and time zones suck - it's always early morning or middle of the night time for one of you. Show some respect and appreciation and check before you keep putting others out. Share the burden. And while we're at it:

7. Check with your internal calendars whether people are available in the first place. 

Give your team mates access to see what you've got going on - you don't want them to have to choose between three dates during the same 30 minutes, because we all know MULTITASKING DOESN'T WORK.  

Can't find a time slot that fits for everyone? CALL THEM and ask if they can switch something around.  

8. Do everyone a favor and be in a quiet environment. 

Don't commute and call. (Tweet this.)

People abroad will have a hard time hearing you over the background noise. If you're conference calling with people whose first language isn't English, they'll have a hard enough time as it is trying to follow everything you're saying.  

9. Speak slowly and enunciate.  

Agree on the language the call should be held in, and if it's English, which is likely, see 8. Be nice. Remember to ask open-ended questions to get everybody's feedback. "Does that make sense?" and "Everyone agreed?" will only ever get you a "Yes, of course." And then you're surprised if stuff doesn't get done. 

How about trying to lay out the goal, agree on the goal, and let people tell you how they can get there? Take a coaching approach and ask how you can support them and when they'd like you to check in for progress reports. They'll feel more in charge and autonomous in the process.  

10. Alert individuals when they're about to be on.  

In the real world, even though multi-tasking is a myth, people are busy and they will likely check email or fiddle with spread sheets or power-points while listening in. When you're about to call on them, say their name and alert them to the fact that they are about to be asked for input.  

I know, this will also get some getting used to, but our brains need a little heads-up to bring our focus back to the task at hand. Start doing that for one another, and your team will work more smoothly.  


Now all YOU have to do is decide which of these strategies to implement when, and whether you're going to stick to them!  Share in the comments, and add any points that have worked for you. 

Thanks to Per-Olof Forsberg for the creative commons flickr pic.



The SCARF® Model for Leadership - 3.0

Hello! Thanks for visiting and please enjoy the free info below! 

Just fyi, you can find me over at from now on, where I'm making custom lettering and calligraphy. 

This archive will be discontinued next month. 

PET scan, public domain, by Jens Langner

PET scan, public domain, by Jens Langner

In SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others, David Rock presents findings from various social neuroscience studies. Two emerging themes stand out:

Firstly, that much of our motivation driving social behavior is governed by an overarching organizing principle of minimizing threat and maximizing reward (Gordon, 2000). Secondly, that (…) social needs are treated in much the same way in the brain as the need for food and water. (Lieberman and Eisenberger, 2008)

If you have time to read the whole piece, I recommend it.

In brief, the brain’s threat or “avoid” response results in increased levels of stress hormones like cortisol. When stressed, you are not able to think clearly, because the region of your brain that deals with executive functions like reasoning, linear processing, or even creative problem solving (pre-frontal cortex) doesn’t receive enough oxygen or glucose. Instead, you are more likely to generalize and play it safe (activating the amygdala, part of the older limbic brain structure also handling instinctive fight-or-flight responses).

The brain’s reward or “approach” response results in increased levels of happy hormones like oxytocin and dopamine. When rewarded, you feel engaged and motivated. You feel safe, joyful, and are more likely to see alternative options to problem solving and take risks.

The SCARF® model explains how the following five concepts affect our experiences with other people:

  • Status (how important are you compared to others)
  • Certainty (how well can you predict the future)
  • Autonomy (how much control do you have over certain events)
  • Relatedness (how safe and connected do you feel with others)
  • Fairness (how fair are your social interactions)

Rock explains that leaders can do the following things to reduce threat and increase reward for each aspect:

Adapted from David Rock's paper

Adapted from David Rock's paper

As with many other models or leadership frameworks, the limitation I see is that they were conceived and probably tested from a uniquely Western, if not even limited United States point-of-view.

Dr. David Rock and Christine Cox, Ph.D also published SCARF® in 2012: updating the social neuroscience of collaborating with others. They propose using the model to evaluate emotional responses before, during, and after an event and added findings from more recent social neuroscience research. Some suggestions mention a cultural and personality-trait variations, e.g.

  • (…) the importance of status for an individual may be a basic personality trait and can influence social interactions even if he or she is not aware of it.
  • (…) Individual differences in various personality traits can also affect the way that people process and respond to uncertain and ambiguous situations.
  • (…) Across the globe, psychological prosperity (such as a sense of autonomy), as opposed to economic prosperity, better predicts feelings of well-being.
  • (…) It appears that the definition of in-group and out-group members is not limited to racial, ethnic, or political distinctions
  • (…) emotions are integral to judging fairness, and those judgments emerge over time through social experiences with others.

SCARF® "3.0"?

For the past five days, I’ve been blogging about the SCARF® model from a culture and personality Type perspective (note: trait and Type are not the same thing).

I propose to add future research studies to be controlled for – or at least take into consideration - these factors to give us a clearer understanding of how our brains work depending on Type and cultural environments.


Summary of my blog posts from the past 5 days

Summary of my blog posts from the past 5 days


3 Tips to Maintain Your Self-Respect


3 Tips to Maintain Your Self-Respect

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt (public domain picture)

Anna Eleanor Roosevelt
(public domain picture)


- Eleanor Roosevelt

Our brains are constantly at work, processing messages and releasing hormones based on often-unconscious cues. These hormones influence our moods and behaviors, and I invite you today to become a little more aware of how your levels of self-respect can trigger them.

Last week, I wrote about how people from different cultures allocate respect – some value achievement and believe personal effort can get you anywhere if you just work hard enough; and that is worthy of admiration. Society can shift and people make their own luck.

Others, probably based on historical socio-political circumstances and stronger class-systems, believe your own personal effort can only get you so far: what matters most is the family you’re born into, or the position you hold. Society is mostly stable and so are its people. 

We also mentioned how different personality types and Temperaments probably pay attention to different key items: for the Theorist™ (NT) that’s expertise, for the Catalyst™ (NF) that’s meaning, for the Stabilizer™ (SJ) that’s responsibility, and for the Improviser™ (SP) that’s freedom.

Now let me ask you:

How much do you respect yourself, and what is that opinion based on?

I think our measure of self-respect depends on at least two scales:

a) How do we compare to others, and
b) How do we compare to our own internal compass of values and morals.

Let’s briefly look at our own internal compass first.

It is probably calibrated during the first few years of our life, as we unconsciously mimic and take on our parents’ (and when in our teens, peers’) demonstrated behaviors as points of reference.

Yes, that’s demonstrated behaviors, not talked-about principles. If your Dad yells at you STOP SHOUTING, what are you going to remember? When it comes to impressionable children that we all once were, actions speak louder than words.

Of course, I don’t necessarily mean children will repeat their parents’ example; I think we all know that children also like to rebel and do the complete opposite of what they see at home. Either way, home sets the first frame of reference.

Your internal compass of values and morals, then, depends not only on the culture and time you grew up in, but also in what you saw demonstrated during your formative years, and how your innate psychological type preferences predisposed you to interpret and act on what you learned.

If you think of yourself as a conscientious person, you’ll feel like you let yourself down when you forget a friend’s birthday, for example. If you think of yourself as an expert, you’ll feel embarrassed when you don’t know the answer to a question, and so on. (If you want to pour yourself a cup of tea now and stroll down memory lane to see where your today’s values and self-respect may be rooted in, be my guest. I’ll wait here til you come back. :-))

Ready to move on? Good! Now then, since we’re social animals, I have to ask:

How do you compare yourself to others?

This scale is equally as interesting, and equally wrought with unconscious processes that some reflection will hopefully help us become more aware of.

Thanks to new technologies like fMRI and EEG scans helping to understand how our brain works, research into social inter-personal neuroscience is a lot easier now than it used to be – and we’re still only scratching the surface.

  • For example, did you know that feeling better about yourself activates the same reward-systems in your brain than if you won the lottery (Izuma et al 2008)?
  • You’ve probably heard about women of all sizes feeling bad after reading the (retouched!) glossy magazines (Hamilton et al 2007).
  • Or how about the one that shows being excluded from a group, aka experiencing ‘social pain’, lights up the same brain regions as actual physical pain (Eisenberger et al 2003)?

As far as I know, neither of these studies controlled for cultural or Type preferences. Still, all show indications that we are wired to co-exist and experience ourselves as part of a social system. Yes, we feel better when we’re aligned with our own values, but it’s also natural to compare ourselves to others. Hey, we even compare us to ourselves – just think of beating your time jogging around the park, or cleaning those candy jellies in 5 moves instead of 7.

Comparison happens. (Tweet this.)

And when it does, your brain sends out either happy-hormones (oxytocin) or stress-hormones (cortisol), depending on whether you see yourself better-than or less-than whatever or whomever you’re comparing yourself to.

Since lower levels of cortisol are linked to living longer and healthier lives, it’s in your best interest to have healthy levels of self-respect. Here’s how you can work on that:

1. Remember that you are valuable, just as you are.

Many of us grow up learning conditional love, like getting an extra hug when we cleaned up our room and being scolded when we traipsed muddy footsteps across the freshly mopped floor. You are no longer a child, you are an adult, and you are worthy of love and belonging. You are enough. Excellent resources I’d like to recommend here in case you need reminders are Brené Brown’s work on shame and vulnerability, and the 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living.

2. Remember that it’s the 21st Century

You’re no longer a great ape in a herd who’s not getting fed if you mess up. Basically, that’s when these brain functions were established and where many of those stress levels come from. So, when you’re comparing yourself to someone else and feel like you’re coming up short, your brain will release cortisol, effectively shutting down your pre-frontal cortex (PFC). That’s the region that’s used for reasoning and all sorts of executive decision-making. In other words, every time you’re feeling less-than, you’re actually unable to talk yourself out of it, because that reasonable part of the brain isn’t getting enough oxygen or glucose to function properly. Your IQ literally drops a few points.

Take a deep breath to calm down. You won’t be able to in the very moment, but hopefully this awareness will help you get to that “oh wow, that conversation / person / situation really makes me feel inferior, I need to take a calm breath now”-moment faster. (Some studies also show a sugary drink might help boot up the PFC faster - but you might want to consider your teeth, wallet, and weight before you grab a coke.) You are an adult in the 21st Century, and you will be fine. Your survival is not threatened by an airbrushed size 2 teenager on the cover of a magazine at checkout. (Tweet this.)

3. Remember your power

How many times have you bragged about your achievements or talked down to someone else? It’s one thing to be proud of what you’ve worked for, and yes – you earned that. Celebrate it. Just remember whom you’re talking to. If your friend just got sacked, this may not be the right time to bring up your promotion. If your friend is 8 months pregnant, this may not be the right time to share your latest weight-loss and fitness tricks.

You’re not the only one comparing yourself to others, others also compare themselves to you. And I think we all know what it’s like when we’re just plain happy, share the happiness, and have our friends react defensively. It’s easy to think “gosh, they’re jealous; why can’t they just be happy for me?” and they probably are. But now you know, their brain is sending out stress hormones making them feel less-than-you

To sum up, how we think of ourselves actually influences our hormone-levels and consequently our mental and physical health. Many negative triggers are unconscious and challenging to get a handle on without the proper awareness. Hopefully, this article gave you at least one strategy to get yourself out of the less-than hole faster, namely love yourself, breathe, and have empathy for others.

In case of doubt, what would Eleanor Roosevelt do?  

Image by hehaden, Flickr, Creative Commons License.



Why your company needs to consider its Global Talent

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 3.48.58 PM.png
There are some really important clues in the survey itself about how, by creating a more purposeful, collaborative, ethical, and diverse company with a clear mission and purpose, it’s actually possible to recruit, engage, motivate, and retain the very best talent. It’s really incumbent on organizations that are based in, say, North America or Western Europe, to be really conscious of what professionals in the workforce are thinking about.

It’s also important for international companies and organizations like Thomson Reuters, for example, to bring professionals from emerging markets to developed countries so the opportunities and energy can rub off. One of the key things here is for companies to think about their talent and workforce in a global context.
— Peter Warwick, Thomson Reuters Chief People Officer

Alison Williams writes on that the American Dream is alive and well - just not in America.  Thomson Reuters surveyed 1,002 employees across their businesses and called it The Professional Revolution. It shows that

professionals in emerging markets (Brazil, China, India) are more optimistic, competitive, as well as collaborative than their developed-countries (UK, US) counterparts.

Could this indicate the dawning of a new way of doing business, combining people and community-focus with a successful bottom line? How exciting!

Professionals in the UK and US appear to be more cynical, or perhaps disappointed?, than their emerging colleagues. For instance, only 44 % of the former believe that "the business world is mostly or always ethical", compared to 66 % of the latter.

I admit I found this surprising, given the well-known levels of corruption in business and government of these emerging countries. Since these countries may allocate respect and status based on who you are and the position you hold, (rather than what you've achieved), however, bribes may be seen as simple favors between friends. 

With books like Lean In enjoying recent commercial success, it may also come as a surprise that only 22 % of women in the UK and US feel optimistic about their careers, compared to 41 % of their Indian, Chinese, and Brazilian sisters. Could it be a factor that the family systems in the latter countries is a lot broader? When more generations as well as relatives are involved in helping to bring up the children, the onus isn't so much on the mother alone or father alone, is it. Aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents also help out and lighten the load. 

The pendulum swings the other way when it comes to work-life balance: 80 % of UK and US professionals believe it is more important to have a reasonable balance between work and personal life, even if it means making career sacrifices. 66 % state they do not check their phones or emails while at home. This is compared to only 65 % of the Brazilian, Chinese, and Indians surveyed who believe in work-life balance, and 42 % who do not check in with work from home. 

I found this surprising, because I know many American professionals who work far more than the 40 hours a week they get paid for, and I have received emails with a 3 am timestamp. 

But what's most hopeful to me are the results for expected future trends:  Let's all make sure that equality and opportunity become a reality.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 4.05.01 PM.png



How would you like to be fired?

Pic credit: origin unknown

Pic credit: origin unknown

Everybody knows a business has to make money. So why are employees still surprised when they're treated as an expense?

"Personnel costs are the highest costs" was a common refrain during my apprenticeship. I took that to mean that investing in people was money well-spent. Hire the right people, make sure recruitment and job descriptions are aligned with business goals, and that teams work well together.

What it meant in practice was that as an executive assistant, I should have a filing cabinet and printer as close to my desk as possible - to maintain confidential communication private, naturally, but more so to avoid wasting precious seconds walking to and from less convenient locations. 

Job security is not what it once was, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that even companies in cultures with a more paternalistic management style (where the boss/company takes some responsibility for their employees, like family members would) will take on the more Western bottom-line approach. (More on that tomorrow.)

This internal memo announcing staff cuts at Ohio's "Plain Dealer" newspaper is a striking example of how business is all about business (bolding is mine, and I found it here): 

July 30, 2013
In September of 2012 we announced that we would begin the process of designing the best business model that would safeguard the future of this enterprise, ensure our leadership in the market, uphold our journalistic standards and continue our mission to serve the Northeastern Ohio community for years to come.
As we announced in our prior communications on April 4, 2013, to ensure that we are positioned to remain Northeast Ohio’s number one source for news and information in the ever-changing media environment, the Northeast Ohio Media Group will be launched later this summer and the Plain Dealer Publishing Company will adopt a new home delivery schedule for the newspaper.
These changes require a redesign of our operations that will result in a realignment of the workforce. These are difficult decisions, but are necessary.
In our June 19, 2013 e-mail to employees informing them of separation notifications that were to take place later that day in various divisions, we indicated that we would go through a similar process with employees in the remaining divisions at a later date.
From approximately 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. tomorrow, July 31st, employees in the Editorial Department will receive a phone call notifying them that they are either being separated from employment on that date, or that they are not being separated from employment. Employees who are notified that they are not being separated should report for work at their next regularly scheduled time.
Employees who are notified that they are being separated will be provided a time to meet Thursday, August 1st with a Human Resources representative at the Tiedeman Production and Distribution Center. At that time, each impacted employee will receive a copy of his/her severance information and will also be given transitional details, including meeting with a representative Right Management, a company that specializes in transitional programs.
We sincerely regret having to go through this process and we thank all who are impacted for their years of service and wish them all the best for their future.

From a Type perspective, this memo sounds quite STJ - objective details, facts, closure, timelines. Of course I'm projecting through my NF lens, but here are some Feelings (value and people-based) additions that may have added a softer note:

There is an abundance of details about exact times and dates of previous communications, as if to establish alibis. "Say what you will, but don't say we didn't warn you!" Safeguarding the enterprise was always the first goal. And that makes sense, doesn't it - without the enterprise, no one would have a job. In any case, the language is quite impersonal and objective when it comes to covering the company, but vague and non-committal when it comes to addressing the employees. 

Realignment of the workforce is a difficult but necessary decision. With a little imagination, there's a faint whiff of an apology for what's to follow, but not really.

In my opinion, it's never just business, it's always personal - because we're persons. So I for one would have appreciated a little more elaboration here - what were some details of the decision-making process? How were people's needs taken into account? What were the other options that were discussed, e.g. cutting executives' salaries or bonuses, selling real estate, offering early retirement options, internal transfers, etc. 

The last couple of paragraphs struck me as shameful, or ashamed. As in, having to write it made those responsible feel so completely vulnerable, that they could not find a more decent, authentic way to put it. "We sincerely regret" and "we thank all those impacted" by this "separation from employment". I would have liked to see some lines of details here, e.g. what were some of the proudest achievements you thank the employees for? How have they contributed to your paper's successes? 

If you're going to be fired anyway, you might argue that it doesn't matter how you're told. I've been let go a couple of times, and I've also quit a couple of jobs. What I always tried to do was treat the exit with the same amount of respect I had for the whole experience. And this memo, I'm sorry to say, does not seem respectful at all. 

So, to cleanse our palates, here's a resignation letter from a more NF perspective, found on It's a lot more personalized, with respect for the individual and the company:

Dear Barton:
You have a man in your employ that I have thought for a long time should be fired. I refer to Sherwood Anderson. He is a fellow of a good deal of ability, but for a long time I have been convinced that his heart is not in his work.
There is no question but that this man Anderson has in some ways been an ornament to our organization. His hair, for one thing, being long and messy gives an artistic carelessness to his personal appearance that somewhat impresses such men as Frank Lloyd Wright and Mr. Curtiniez of Kalamazoo when they come into the office.
But Anderson is not really productive. As I have said his heart is not in his work. I think he should be fired and if you will not do the job I should like permission to fire him myself. I therefore suggest that Anderson be asked to sever his connections with the company on [the first of next week]. He is a nice fellow. We will let him down easy but let’s can him.
Respectfully submitted,
Sherwood Anderson