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Laying People Off? Don?t Do What Daniel Ek Did
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: New York, NY
Wednesday, January 25, 2023

 
Daniel Ek
Daniel Ek

Is your company laying people off? Yes, it is that kind of time again, and whether you are giving the heave-ho to five people or 5,000, for heaven’s sake don’t do what Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek did this week.

In a company-wide memo announcing the layoff of 6 percent of the Spotify workforce, Mr. Ek said that for his part, “these changes will allow me to get back to the part where I do my best work—spending more time working on the future of Spotify—and I can’t wait to share more about all the things we have coming.”

In other words, “I can work better without all you mopes around, so adios and happy trails.”

It takes Ek until the ninth paragraph to say, “I take full accountability for the moves that got us here today.”

I guess part of the problem here could be attributed to the fact that English is not Daniel Ek’s native language, but are tone-deafness and insensitivity specific to certain languages?

To Spotify’s credit, they are giving the departed five months’ severance, plus healthcare and full pay for all unused vacation and leave time. That seems unusually generous, and maybe things will pick up in tech sooner than anyone thinks.

Naturally, Ek ends on a positive note, talking about how these tough decisions position the company better for the future and how there will be a steady stream of innovations “unlike anything we have introduced in the past several years.”

The overall effect, said Business Insider, was a kind of “toxic positivity.” Right—unlike anything we have ever seen.

Should a CEO ever send you a draft of a memo like this, RUN, don’t walk to his or her office, blow past the secretary, and stick your face right in his or hers. Say, “I’m making an appointment for you with my psychiatrist. I want you to cancel everything and see him this afternoon. Then, we can talk about this memo.”

Next, round up some allies, swear them to secrecy, and tell them to prepare themselves to answer lots of questions from the media and employees who survive the layoff.

Finally, go home, have a couple of stiff ones, and watch CNBC to see if the memo has leaked. If it has, go right back to the office and start making calls.

BTW, if you are the PR person who wrote the memo, I can make a Zoom appointment with my psychiatrist for you.

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