The other day, Renault, the French auto maker, was forced to apologize to three former executives it fired in January after wrongly accusing them of espionage.
Clearly, Renault will have to pay big bucks to these three in spite of having to bite the bullet and offer them their old jobs back. To get some idea of the emotional damage done to the three, I called my close associate, the eminent psychiatrist Dr. Banyman Regutnick.
“Dr Regutnick, based on what you’ve read in the press and your experience, how badly scarred were these men?”
“I think you’re missing the point,” he said. “The real question is what about the damage done to Carlos Ghosen, Renault’s CEO. He’s spent nearly a decade rebuilding the company and just when his industry was emerging from the Great Recession, his COO made this stupid mess that he now has to deal with.”
“But Dr. Regutnick, what about the human cost to these three executives. They were accused of espionage. Their families were destroyed. They’re likely emotional wrecks.”
“Nonsense,” he replied. “First, they can their have old jobs back at huge salary increases if they wish. Second, they’ll get multimillion-dollar settlements and new cars for life. Third, they’ll be treated like heroes wherever they land. Fourth, they and their families will get the finest psychiatric treatment in the world. Finally, let’s not forget that we’re talking business, not war.
“These guys didn’t suffer battle fatigue from a year in Vietnam or Iraq. They just got fired.
“So what’s the big deal? Lots of executives get canned, though I have to admit this situation was a little more serious. But they’re going to be paid extremely well for two months of pain.
“But,” Dr Regutnick said, as he paused for emphasis, “what about the pain Mr. Ghosen suffered. He has to be emotionally wrecked by the mistake his company made.
“People think that all CEOs are just iron men without feeling. Just robots made of iron with business plans for hearts. Well, based on my experience and studies, that’s hardly the case.
“I can’t tell you the number of times a CEO client has broken down on my couch or called me at home late into the night crying because of the pressure of a personnel decision he just couldn’t make, or a business crisis that was beyond his capability, or the feeling that he was all alone, or that there was no one who understood him or what he was facing.
“Now, it just so happens that I have another client, also a major industrial CEO, who spent the last three years guiding his company through the Great Recession and then, just last month, his wife told him that she was leaving him . . . for another woman. Here he had saved his company and the jobs of 10,000 people and, suddenly, he was all alone.
“And you’re worried about three executives who are going to wind up millionaires and can even have their old jobs back if they want. Give me a break”
“Gee, Dr. Regutnick, I never considered that point of view. Sometimes, you only look at the vodka bottle as only half empty instead half full.”
“Regardie, that’s why you’re just a columnist working for peanuts.”
Bill Regardie is the founder of Regardie Magazine.