Tough Talks Book Series

George Clooney’s lessons

A few weeks ago  I saw Up in the Air, with George Clooney as a ‘hatchet man,’ whose career is delivering tough talks to people, letting them know their jobs have been terminated. He travels around the country filling in for bosses who don’t have the skills needed to ‘let people go.’ As charming as George Clooney is, his character is not a nice man.  Sure he looks good, has an efficient system for firing people, but he is more interested in getting frequent flyer miles than having his own real relationships.

George Clooney’s character, and the company he works for, is necessary because many bosses don’t know how to deliver tough talks–and they don’t want to.

While Clooney’s script has him saying most of the right words, his character in essence destroys the life, not only of the employee getting fired, but of the boss who didn’t deliver the tough talk himself or herself. Because the boss is bound to have survivor’s guilt. The avoidance of a difficult conversation, at home or at work, always comes back to bite you!

What are the missing pieces?  The integrity, the respect (although Clooney’s characgter professes to care enough to deliver the bad news in person…for the right price), and the values.

As Rose Gailey, an executive coach and corporate change expert says in Tough Talks in Tough Times, on page 62, “The test of a truly healthy organizational culture is reflected in how you say goodbye to employees. It goes back to the values of the company.”

What are the values of your company?

This entry was posted by Jean Palmer Heck in Difficult conversations. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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