Just a Theory

By David E. Wheeler

Posts about Compassion

Time is Short, So Be Generous

Supermassive Black Hole

Image by ESO/R.Genzel and S.Gillessen

This video, Timelapse of the Future, has kept me thinking ever since Kottke posted it a few weeks ago. Given current knowledge, the expectation is that the universe will go on forever, but thanks to entropy and expansion, it will eventually be full of, well, nothing at all. This rather limits the time hospitable to life. This arresting quotation from Brian Cox starting at the 12:55 mark captures it:

As a fraction of the lifespan of the universe, as measured from its beginning to the evaporation of the last black hole, life, as we know it, is only possible for one thousandth of a billion billon billonth, billion billon billonth, billion billon billonth of a percent.

That’s:

.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001%

Boy howdy our time is limited. We should make the best of it, to let our brief time be as pleasant, happy, and fulfilling as possible. All of us. Be kind, empathetic, compassionate, and generous with your fellow human beings. In the end, only how well we treat each other matters.

(Via kottke.org)

Compassionate Sacking

Jennifer Kim, in a Medium post based on her Twitter thread:

#1 rule: No one should ever be surprised with a “you’re fired.” That’s how you create disgruntled employees, embarrassing Glassdoor reviews, dip in team morale, etc. An out-of-the-blue firing is a failing on the manager’s part, not the employees.

So how do you do that? The most important bit:

  1. Give them a fair shot to improve. As a leader, it’s your job to try to make it work, each employee is owed that.

Practice listening skills. Demonstrate that you believe in them, and you want to see them improve. Commit to giving a LOT more feedback (specific & documented).

If you have little faith that the employee will be able to improve, taking these and the other steps Jennifer recommends might feel like a waste of time. But unless the employee’s actions involve violence, harassment, fraud, etc., you need to give them every chance possible for not only their benefit, but the benefit of their coworkers. Of course you don’t mention it to your other employees, but people talk, they know what’s going on, and they all need to know that if they step out of line, you’ll support them as much as you can.

In other words, a firing should never come as a surprise to either the employee getting the sack nor their coworkers. Because worse than negative Glassdoor reviews is the erosion of trust among the people you continue to work with after the event.