- OLD: Death of a Product Manager

  • http://mcwalter.net Finlay McWalter

    A vexing problem is the decedent’s “digital” effects: files on their computer and the company’s network shares, personal correspondence in their email account, personal messages or contacts stored in the company telephone system, and photos, texts, chats, files, and voice recordings on the employee’s company issued mobile phone. Disentangling this stuff on separation (voluntary or not) is difficult (not least because of the volume of stuff that’s often involved), even with a living employee.

    There’s no easy fix for this. You can’t just hand a wholesale copy over to the family, as it may contain company and customer confidential data. You can’t destroy it, as it may contain info valuable to the family or to the company (and in some circumstances you may be legally obligated to retain it). And picking through it (winnowing the personal from the profession) is a time-consuming and sometimes intrusive task.

    So while everyone’s still alive and employed, it’s a good time to remind them that keeping personal stuff, and doing intimate personal business, on the company’s equipment is generally a bad idea /for them/. Stuff they might need gets lost or becomes inaccessible on termination, stuff they wish was gone ends up in a hundred company backups, and stuff they think is private ends up getting data-dumped to their bewildered successor.

    • G E

      While I agree with the statement of, ” keeping personal stuff, and doing intimate personal business, on the company’s equipment is generally a bad idea /for them/.”.

      I’d go one further. Anything you do on company time/equipment is the company’s. This includes e-mails from your work account, texts from your work phone, files stored on the computer, etc. If you just remember that, its a much better situation for all involved (including the poor IT guy who may have to pick through your hard drive for anything of potential value to save before wiping it and reallocating the system).

      I’m not saying companies should constantly snoop through equipment assigned to you. I’m just saying, if you remember that its company property, you won’t be surprised if they tell you to remove those MP3s you have, or if it dies, IT isn’t interested in helping you get back all those photos of your kids.

      • Moschops

        “Anything you do on company time/equipment is the company’s.”

        Whilst I can’t speak for the law in your country, which I understand is rather stacked against employees, here that’s simply not true and even if it were in an employment contract, would be considered illegal and thus unenforceable in law.

  • Jo

    A co-worker of mine passed away…our management dealt with it horribly. They gave us all really hard time trying to get the time off to attend her funeral, had they not allowed me to go I probably would have just quit right then and there….they wanted us to all go separately to the visitation and come straight back to work after so there was always someone to cover the shift. I don’t think any of the managers/owners went to the funeral either.

    They notified us in a REALLY tacky e-mail
    “[co-worker] has passed away. We will let you know if the family wants to share arrangement details with you.”

    We all knew she was quite sick and in the hospital but still….not very gentle, could have been worded much nicer, and of course the family would want her FRIENDS to attend her funeral.

    It was one of the reasons of many on my list of reasons to quit, it just made me feel like they didn’t give a shit about any of us, we were all expendable.

  • http://twitter.com/dekrazee1/status/62861057760305152 Rai (Pratibha Rai)

    Death of a Product Manager

  • http://twitter.com/ukwebdev/status/62905870169808896 Simon

    Death of a Product Manager –

  • http://twitter.com/johnsontc/status/62907698005544960 Tim Johnson

    @crankypm blog: Death of a colleague Sobering thoughts and outstanding recommendations. #humanity #leadership

  • http://twitter.com/frankentan/status/63009036475445248 Doktor FrankenTan
  • Anon

    Also, higher-ups, do not use the death of an employee as a “good time” to fly in to attend the funeral and then convene meetings to inform onsite management you are closing that location.

  • Rebecca Rachmany

    Great post. Two other things.

    1. Be sensitive to cultural differences. In the Jewish culture, it is traditional to visit the bereaved for the 7 days afterwards.

    2. If you have to err, err on the side of being overly generous/sensitive at this time. All of the employees will remember it, speak well of it and feel more loyalty to the company because of it. (OK, you should do it because it’s the right thing, but it also has benefits.)

    I worked in a company where they were so sensitive about this — a single guy’s parent passed away and they knew he’d be mourning alone, so they made a schedule to make sure at least a couple of people from the company came every day to visit him.

  • http://twitter.com/prodmgmttalk/status/65167350017687552 ProdMgmt Talk

    RT @crankypm: #prodmgmt – New Cranky Blog Post! : Death of a Product Manager http://crankypm.com/2011/04/death-product-manager/

  • Robert

    Requiring an employee to seek counseling, which is effectively mental health care sound overly invasive and quite frankly a violation of an employees privacy unless you can prove they are a danger to the rest of the workplace. No different than mandating an employee get any other medical treatment.

    I’d also question the legality of it. Generally it’s only legal when it’s a threat to others either mental stability wise, or for example an infection that could spread.

    Regardless, such a mandate is way overbearing.

  • Nick

    Death of a Product Manager http://bit.ly/TmQL7

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  • Larry

    Where is the Cranky PM? You are missed.

  • RBK!

    New post!!

  • http://twitter.com/lostbookends/status/115420583134642176 Franklin Moser

    Death of a Product Manager #PMBlog