More and more companies these days are pressured by shareholders to cut staff. The result is that Big Bosses at hundreds of companies have been delivering a “Get Rid of the Deadwood,” speech.
In the old days deadwood was a euphemism for staffers showing marginal productivity and such a lack of energy as to appear lifeless, sometimes to the point of gathering cobwebs. When examined by the company nurse or a Skype-based, freelance coroner, many of these employees qualified for a sans-a-breath classification and were discretely removed by the janitorial staff.
Others, however, were found not dead, but merely involved in long-range projects that required lots of silent, strategic planning. While silence is a symptom of deadwood, it alone does not support a prima facie case of “Nobody home, Jerome.”
Today, deadwood includes those who eat their breakfast, lunch and dinner at their desks. Those who seldom say anything during meetings–in fact they don’t attend meetings. They skip parties and never chip in for somebody’s going away gift. They are always there late at night when the Big Boss tosses them a wave while cutting out shamelessly before midnight.
Management gurus now say why wait six months or six years to find that Ziggurat is taking so long on the Ferguson report because he’s as stiff as a torque wrench. Thus, the new “Get Rid of the Deadwood” mandate means sending someone from cubicle to cubicle to have employees sign a “Proof of Life” statement.
Some companies try to lighten up the somber mood by ordering pizza and staging a festive “Bring Out Your Dead” Day (or BOYD which, ironically, reads BODY if the last two letters are switched.)
In order to avoid the embarrassment of hauling off dead workers only to discover they are still thinking about the Ferguson report, companies are issuing employees this convenient check list:
Is this you?
Seven Warning Signs That You May Be Dead.
1. You don’t think you are dead. You get up every day and put on the same cargo pants. You go to work and do nothing. You come home at night and your wife asks what’s new and you have trouble remembering. She asks “Any new cargo in your cargo pants?” You ask what’s for dinner. She says leftovers. You ask leftover what? She says what do you care? You say Good Point. She says this isn’t working; we need to talk. You say what’s not working, the stove? She says “It’s you. You act like you’re dead.” You say I’ll call a repairman and have him stop by tomorrow. She says I had drinks with the guy across the street. We’re going to Vegas tomorrow. You say I’ll have the repairman come next week. She says I may not be here. You ask what’s for dinner? She says leftovers. You ask…
2. You can’t remember the last time you had to use the men’s/ladies room. In fact, you can’t remember which one you are.
3. Every now and then the night janitor vacuums your clothes and dusts your hair. Often he brings in a pal and the two of them stare at you, giggling, taking pictures on their cell phones and occasionally pinching your cheek.
4. Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome has suddenly cleared up.
5. You have 24,238 unanswered e-mails. 21,112 of them are from someone named Ferguson.
6. Elvis Presley walks past your desk and says “You aint nothin’ but a hound dog. A dead hound dog.”
7. You hear voices singing “Sixteen men on a dead man’s chest.” You count the men standing on your chest. There are only fifteen. You want to breathe a sigh of relief but you notice you can’t breathe. Then the dwarf jumps off his brother’s shoulders. And now there are sixteen.
©Patrick A. McGuire and A Hint of Light 2013-2014, all rights reserved.