If/when you Have to Lay People Off, This Might be the way to do it – Jack Dorsey’s memo to all Twitter Employees

laid-off – having lost your job
discharged, dismissed, fired, pink-slipped


A company is growing. They hire people. They have a very difficult time knowing:

How many people they will need
What their workforce needs will be as the competition changes
What their workforce needs will be as the technology changes
What their workforce needs will be because they really did not “know” how many to hire to begin with…

Getting the talent mix right – the number of workers; the kinds of workers; the chemistry between the workers – is so very difficult.

And, yes, there are times when people have to be laid off. Not fired for incompetence – that’s a different matter. But laid off because leadership made the wrong call about the number and kinds of workers. Or, the right call became the wrong call as circumstances changed…

Maybe it should be understood this way: every new hire should know that circumstances can change that would no longer make that new hire’s position, or the job he/she was hired for, justifiable.

Ultimately, being laid off is always devastating to the people laid off. But, we must all admit and acknowledge that it is also true that there are times when such layoffs are absolutely necessary.

But… such circumstances can demonstrate how heartless business, and businesses and leaders, can be. One day, companies are hiring people to be “part of the team; a team where we value every employee,” and the next day, the team is disbanded and the jobs cast aside because the work can be done overseas for much less. So, just how much did the company actually value the members of the team?

I guess this shows how difficult leading a company can be.

These thoughts were all prompted by the memo from the CEO of Twitter, announcing some layoffs. You can read about it here: Here’s the email Jack Dorsey sent all Twitter employees on Tuesday morning about 336 of them being laid off by Alyson Shontell.

I think Jack Dorsey’s memo captured the right balance of realism about the company’s circumstances, and the compassion and care for the employees that a company should have, and demonstrate. It at least sounds a lot more human than massive lay off stories I’ve read about HP, and other companies at different times, through the last few years.

Jack Dorsey (from 2013)
Jack Dorsey (from 2013)

Here’s the text of the memo (from the Business Insider article). I’ve bolded some key lines.

From: Jack Dorsey
To: All Employees
Date: October 13, 2015
Subject: A more focused Twitter


We are moving forward with a restructuring of our workforce so we can put our company on a stronger path to grow. Emails like this are usually riddled with corporate speak so I’m going to give it to you straight.

The team has been working around the clock to produce streamlined roadmap for Twitter, Vine, and Periscope and they are shaping up to be strong. The roadmap is focused on the experiences which will have the greatest impact. We launched the first of these experiences last week with Moments, a great beginning, and a bold peek into the future of how people will see what’s going on in the world.

The roadmap is also a plan to change how we work, and what we need to do that work. Product and Engineering are going to make the most significant structural changes to reflect our plan ahead. We feel strongly that Engineering will move much faster with a smaller and nimbler team, while remaining the biggest percentage of our workforce. And the rest of the organization will be streamlined in parallel.

So we have made an extremely tough decision: we plan to part ways with up to 336 people from across the company. We are doing this with the utmost respect for each and every person. Twitter will go to great lengths to take care of each individual by providing generous exit packages and help finding a new job.

Let’s take this time to express our gratitude to all of those who are leaving us. We will honor them by doing our best to serve all the people that use Twitter. We do so with a more purpose-built team, which we’ll continue to build strength into over time, as we are now enabled to reinvest in our most impactful priorities.

Thank you all for your trust and understanding here. This isn’t easy. But it is right. The world needs a strong Twitter, and this is another step to get there. As always, please reach out to me directly with any ideas or questions.




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