Microsoft to employees: ‘We plan to right-size our manufacturing operations’

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The tech giant has announced plans to lay off 18,000 employees. One memo announcing those layoffs was full of business-speak.

By Matt Wilson | Posted: July 18, 2014
Microsoft already had a public relations crisis on its hands with Thursday’s news that it was laying off 18,000 employees. That’s 14 percent of its workforce, and the biggest batch of job cuts in the company’s nearly 40-year history.

How it’s communicating those layoffs to employees doesn’t seem to be helping matters. Microsoft published the email from Stephen Elop, head of Microsoft’s devices unit, to about 12,500 laid-off employees. The lion’s share of the employees who are losing jobs come from his department.

The memo begins, “Hello there,” ends with “Regards,” and is loaded with business jargon. Terms such as “financial envelope,” “business continuity,” and “right-size our manufacturing operations” are peppered throughout. Worse, it barely makes clear that its recipients have been discharged. It’s mostly about the company’s new strategy to make and sell Windows phones, which wouldn’t seem a primary concern for people who no longer work for Microsoft.

This paragraph is the 11th from the top:

We plan that this would result in an estimated reduction of 12,500 factory direct and professional employees over the next year. These decisions are difficult for the team, and we plan to support departing team members with severance benefits.

New York magazine tore the memo to shreds in a blog post, noting that there isn’t anything in the memo thanking employees for their service.

Elop’s “Hello there” was a particular point of contention for lots of Twitter observers:

That criticism comes after complaints that the July 10 memo by CEO Sattya Nadella was, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education, “turgid drivel.”

What would you do to improve Elop’s memo? Could it be improved? Would you have made it public, as Microsoft did? 

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