When it comes to running a business, firing employees is among the most challenging tasks there are.

It’s not easy to let people go.

If you are going to terminate someone’s employment, the least you can do is do it in a compassionate and humane manner.

You don’t humiliate the people you are going to lay off.

Recently, Patrick Collison, the CEO of Stripe was forced to let go of a number of employees, and here is what he had to say about it in a memo he sent to staff:

“Today we’re announcing the hardest change we have had to make at Stripe to date. We’re reducing the size of our team by around 14% and saying goodbye to many talented Stripes in the process. If you are among those impacted, you will receive a notification email within the next 15 minutes. For those of you leaving: we’re very sorry to be taking this step and John and I are fully responsible for the decisions leading up to it.”

Further down the memo he says the following:

“Most importantly, while this is definitely not the separation we would have wanted or imagined when we were making hiring decisions, we want everyone that is leaving to know that we care about you as former colleagues and appreciate everything you’ve done for Stripe. In our minds, you are valued alumni. (In service of that, we’re creating alumni.stripe.com email addresses for everyone departing, and we’re going to roll this out to all former employees in the months ahead.”

Then they admit that the leadership made a mistake and apologise for terminating people:

“In making these changes, you might reasonably wonder whether Stripe’s leadership made some errors of judgment. We’d go further than that. In our view, we made two very consequential mistakes, and we want to highlight them here since they’re important:”

Then they conclude by allocating time to help those employees they are laying off:

For the rest of this week, we’ll focus on helping the people who are leaving Stripe. Next week we’ll reset, recalibrate, and move forward.

For me, this memo is a classy way of how you lay off people.

The memo explains what needs to happen, and why it has to happen, but also highlights that they don’t like doing what they are about to do.

Never criticise your team, never tell them that everything they do is terrible, and never kick someone in the rear as they are leaving.

This mentality of giving immediate notice and yelling “You are fired” to staff is tough for me to comprehend.

I applaud Patrick Collison and his brother and co-founder John’s leadership through the layoff of several employees.


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