Wounded's top stories of 2006

Published: Monday, January 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 31, 2006 at 12:46 a.m.
Expensive gas, backdated stock options and CEOs in jail - wasn't 2006 a great year? Unfortunately, if you want to read about any of these stories you'll have to look elsewhere. This is a much quirkier look at 2006 through my five favorite stories of the year.
  • Say hello to electronic goodbyes. Radio Shack sent 403 employees pink slips via e-mail. I have no idea whether they used little emoticons - a little employee hanging in a gallows or a worker that suddenly goes up in a puff of smoke. Firing people via e-mail is probably the most heartless act I've seen in my decade as a workplace pundit. To me, this proves that Radio Shack's treatment of its people is as shoddy as its products. Let's hope this is a trend that doesn't spread.
  • Doing the absolute minimum. Saying that U.S. Congress doesn't get much done is not going to be news to anyone. But this year Congress managed to create a level of self-parody that I didn't think was possible. For the umpteenth time, Congress rejected a call to increase the minimum wage, then turned around and gave themselves yet another raise. Let's all have empathy for people trying to live on a paltry $5.25 an hour and keep pressure on Congress to raise the minimum in 2007.
  • When in-flight entertainment really crashes and burns. What is more relaxing than an in-flight entertainment during a long flight? I know some Jet Blue customers who might disagree. A Los Angeles-bound flight's landing gear didn't deploy properly earlier this year, and the plane landed in a shower of flames. The interesting part is that the passengers on board the flight actually watched their own landing on satellite television. And you thought the remake of the "Poseidon Adventure" was scary? But I think this is a great metaphor for what it's actually like to work today in a 24/7 cable-news culture. We see everything, even the stuff we'd rather miss.
  • Just plane chaos. Northwest Airlines changed the age-old policy of boarding its planes by row. Now, after the first-class cabin and frequent flyers, getting on an NWA plane looks a lot like a mosh pit. Ironically, the move was made because the airline discovered that a little bit of chaos actually reduces the time that it takes to board a plane, according to studies by five to 10 minutes. To me this is a great example of how sometimes the best way to do things isn't the most logical.
  • Handshakes are so five minutes ago. Guess who came out this year against the handshake? The World Health Organization. Fearing an outbreak of Avian Flu, we're now being told that a handshake is the perfect way to spread disease. Given e-mail, video conferences, iPods, telecommuting and communicable diseases, it now seems like we're on track to never make human contact with anyone during our entire 9-5 grind.
    Here's to a saner 2007.
    We'd like to hear your plans for a great working year. I'll give an autographed copy of "Working Wounded: Advice that adds insight to injury" (Warner, 2000) to the best submission. Send your entry, name and address via: working wounded.com or via e-mail: bob@workingwounded.com. Entries must be received by Wednesday.
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  • Our winning strategy for dealing with a liar comes from F.R. in Gainsville: "I know the popular opinion is to never deal with a liar. But I disagree. I think it's not realistic. The key to me is to assume that everyone can lie and to learn how to monitor their truthfulness. Sure it sounds negative, but I've learned that the best way to trust people is to test them. It's worked for me."
    Bob Rosner is a best selling author, speaker and internationally syndicated columnist. Ask Bob a question: bob@workingwounded.com or go to http://graymattersbook.com.
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