People skills can save you from 'termination'

Senior-level 'terminations' are apparently rife - but the interpersonal touch should keep you safe.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

A new survey by Korn/Ferry, looking at the comings and goings of executive roles in Europe, Middle East and Africa, has found that 48% of respondents have been ‘terminated' from a senior-level position in the past five years. By ‘terminated', we assume it refers to being sacked, not leaving the office one night to find the ominous red dot of a laser-sight rifle trailing around your forehead.

To suggest that around half of top-level executives have been given the boot in the space of five years seems hard to believe. What could be causing such a bloodthirsty wave? 36% of respondents cited restructuring as the cause of their unplanned departure, which is perhaps not such a surprise in the current climate, as companies scramble to make themselves fitter and leaner for the current fight.

What's more surprising is that performance-related issues, i.e. not actually being cut out for the job, were less prevalent than people having problems with relationships in their organisation, which was found to have caused 23% of such job losses. This just shows the importance of people skills, as well as what Korn/Ferry describes as having organisational savvy (whatever that is) and integrity.

But it looks like, as well as the threat of ‘terminations', the life of executives still in work are about to get worse - at least in the US, where new President Barack Obama has wasted little time in drawing a line in the sand. He has announced plans to limit executive pay to $500k a year in any company getting a taxpayer bail-out. He's also looking into capping golden parachutes and other exec perks, saying that taxpayer-backed executives had ‘responsibilities to not be living high on the hog'.

If the Korn/Ferry findings are applicable in the US too, Obama's house-cleaning efforts will have to do more than simply sticking a limit on how much executives are getting paid. Reasons cited in the survey for terminations included the executives playing ‘political games' or engaging in ‘fraudulent' or ‘criminal type behaviour'. The honesty of the respondents is admirable. We wonder whether they're likely to be so frank in their next job interview.

In today's bulletin:
Interest rates cut to 1% - but is it worth it?
Unilever cleans up - but forecast looks gloomy
Google Big Brother goes live as Facebook turns five
People skills can save you from 'termination'
Are the hacks to blame for the financial crisis?

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