The Corporate Refugee Centre…

Soccer Field

The board of Klink wanted the public and the media to see the organizational changes in a positive light. Too much negative press was also contributing to the slide in the share price. Klink had become a media circus spiraling out of control like a tangled up trapeze act. Getting rid of people was easy for John Shaft because he didn’t deal with the consequences. He could decimate an organization, make it lean, get his lofty pay cheque and then leave it for some other bugger to pick up the pieces. In order to get the job, Shaft had to prepare a good news spin on how he was going to sell the organizational restructure to a hungry pride of media lions.  To his credit, he came up with a unique and unorthodox approach.  He would set up the first ever corporate refugee centre. Any employee of Klink who was given the boot would be eligible to obtain free support from the corporate refugee centre. It was an unusual method for distressed workers and corporate casualties of free market economics and executive stuff ups. The board loved the idea and gave Shaft the go ahead. The corporate refugee centre was located in an old building on the outskirts of the CBD. At the back of the building was a state of the art soccer pitch on synthetic grass that was owned by John Shaft. And yes you guessed it; Shaft was a soccer fanatic and a very keen Liverpool supporter. Ex employees were encouraged to join the corporate refugee centre on their departure to assist them in finding a new job. The centre had a unique program to ensure sacked employees would keep their morale and spirits high. They were required to join the corporate refugee soccer club—Outplacement United, and play against teams from the ‘O League’. They included the Street Socceroos from the homeless World Cup, Salvation Army, St Vincent De Paul and the Pentridge Prison Old Boys. Training started at 9:00am every morning on fitness and technical ball skills before moving onto the job centre to review individual job strategies.

John Shaft had another small problem to deal with. He had sacked every human resources manager in the company except me. I survived the cut for one reason only, and that was because I was based at Fortress Orangutan. I was out of sight and out of mind and by the time Shaft found out about me, he also needed me. Someone from human resources had to manage the corporate refugee centre. I was given the gig because I was the only human resources manager left at Klink. Some would argue that I was in the right place at the wrong time. Others would disagree and say it was meant to be.  Whichever the case, I was in charge of the corporate refugee centre and had never played soccer before.

Where do I get a crash course in soccer? Where am I going to find an expert soccer coach?

The phone rang and on the LCD screen contained the words;

John Shaft.

I better pick this up quickly. He is probably testing me on the number of rings.

‘Hi Max. It’s me —Shaft. Listen, I have an idea I need you to start working on immediately.’

I paused for a couple of seconds. ‘Hello Mr. Shaft, what idea do you have in mind?’

‘I want you to organize a soccer match between the Street Socceroos and Outplacement United for next Sunday. It’s going to have media attention and I need you to motivate all those guys I sacked to participate. Can you do it Max?’

‘Mr. Shaft, I don’t think you will get many volunteers.’ I thought about my next words carefully. ‘Our ex employees—they may not wish to be involved. Don’t take this the wrong way but you did sack them after all.’

‘Do you mean they are still upset with me Max?’

‘Not upset, probably pissed off with you.’

‘Max. I gave them redundancies and paid them well. What else do they want?’

‘Just to find another job quickly Mr. Shaft and leave the corporate refugee centre.’

‘Max. I don’t care.’ Shaft was getting furious and losing patience. ‘You get them ready for next Sunday or you will be visiting the corporate refugee centre yourself!’

‘But Mr Shaft— what if you get hurt or injured?’ I was aware every ex Klink employee was keen to get even with Sharp. As for scoring a goal or winning the match, that would be secondary to getting Shaft from a motivational point of view.

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