Business school: Ways to remove unwanted staff

Share your ideas on how companies can help staff move on with dignity
One method of managing out an employee is to set targets they cannot possibly meet © FT illustration; Dreamstime

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Welcome to the FT Business school newsletter, a weekly serving of management wisdom, reading recommendations and business-related challenges. FT subscribers can sign up here to receive the newsletter by email every Monday. If you have any feedback about FT Business school, please email bschool@ft.com.

Andrew Hill's challenge

The FT's management editor sets a weekly test of your business, strategy and management skills.

Being "managed out" of any job is traumatic. Kaye Wiggins' feature about the techniques involved was one of the best read stories on FT.com last week and elicited a host of comments from readers about their harrowing experiences of being pushed out.

Feel free to share more, but this week's challenge is to suggest more humane ways in which companies can help staff move on with dignity. Send your ideas to bschool@ft.com.

Last week, I asked for your tips about getting "in the zone" and becoming more productive. Benedikt Rossgardt from Munich says he splits his day into four phases: "prepare, perform, ideate and research". Why? "I can only let my mind wander relaxed [the 'ideation' phase], if I know that I am already prepared for the meetings ahead."

This week, instead of further reading, may I suggest further writing? The FT and McKinsey have just launched the 2017 Bracken Bower Prize for budding business authors. If you're aged under 35 and have a great business book idea, you have until September 30 to work it into a proposal. The prize is worth £15,000, and is already leading to publication deals for past finalists. Get to work!

Professor's picks

Every week a business school professor or academic recommends useful FT articles.

Gregor Halff, professor of corporate communication and deputy dean, at Singapore Management University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Business:

The articles I have chosen highlight the unintended effects of business decisions. If students want to become effective leaders they will need to explain unintended and perverse effects to employees and customers nearly every day.

Testing and VW: how do you catch a cheat? The article shows how good intentions can backfire. Transparency on emission levels required by regulators might have encouraged Volkswagen to cheat. But to get the public to accept vaguer targets poses an ethical dilemma and a leadership challenge for the automotive sector.

Second-hand booze sales flow from Japanese health fads  shows unintended effects on markets. Even without marketing, spirits’ sales soar in Japan thanks to Jun Saito, a reality TV producer who can influence viewers' perceptions and conversations. In the classroom, this article can be used to discuss leaders’ communicative awareness: what they say about their companies can be less important than what outsiders say about them.

Unilever clash highlights conflict of interest dangers for big PR agencies shows communication experts are in the spotlight. PR agencies have long strived to become global conglomerates to keep up with their clients' expanding businesses. They might not have realised the unintended consequences, such as more conflicts of interest when they serve clients in business disputes with each other.

Ask the academics

Got a question for leading business school experts? Send it to bschool@ft.com and we will publish the best replies in future newsletters.

Jonathan Moules' business school news

Diversity has been a key concern for top business schools around the world. The fear for many top schools is that achieving diversity will become more difficult in an era when populist political movements are making headway and leaders, most notably US president Donald Trump, have made curbs on immigration a key manifesto promise.

One western nation stands out from the crowd in this respect, and that is Canada. It has been noticed particularly by students from India, looking to study overseas, as I report this week.

Extra reading

Keeping lists can help us organise our lives. But according to Harvard Business Review, having a “how to succeed” list can be "potentially harmful to decision makers, managers, and entrepreneurs".

Test your knowledge

How good is your grasp of the news? Test your reading of last week's top stories with the FirstFT quiz.

Compiled by Wai Kwen Chan

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