Bizarre Love Triangle

by Matthew Stollak on Friday, July 1, 2011

So, I just got back from a showing of "Larry Crowne" with 100 of my 70 year old friends.

I'm going to spoil the first 5 minutes of the movie for you...so if you're going to see it, be prepared.  Over the opening credits, we see Larry Crowne (Tom Hanks) as a model organization citizen for a Wal-mart clone called U-Mart.   He's excited to go to work, he picks up trash from the parking lot, he demonstrates a lot of camaraderie.   He spouts that even without organizational policy, sorting the clothes before leaving for the day is the right thing to do.

Over the loud speaker, he hears his name being called to the common break room.  He thinks he is going to receive employee of the month, an award he has won 9 times!  However, once he gets there, he is met by HR and the suits.  He learns that because he does not have a college education (he entered the Navy after high school where he served the country loyally for 20 years as a cook), he is not "management" material, and can't move up the corporate ladder.  Because the company doesn't want to prevent anyone from moving up, they decide....TO FIRE HIM.

That's right...they fire him.  No thought that the policy might be a bad one.   No thought that other positions might plateau.  No offer of tuition reimbursement to possibly keep one of their supposedly best employees.  No progressive discipline/warning that this might be a possibility sometime in the future if he doesn't start working toward a college education.  They fire him.

I understand that they needed the plot point to get him to go to community college to meet cute with Julia Roberts, but its just lazy writing by Tom Hanks and Nia Vardalos to get the movie going.

*But the 70 year old ladies loved the movie anyway

3 comments

The funny thing is, for me anyway, is that we have been having discussions about having a more aggressive development policy - an "Up or out" approach.
I'm a big fan of turnover, but do you know what the recruitment costs alone would be? Not to mention losing the Larry's of the world on a regular basis. Every large employer needs a whole pile of "B" players. They should have found a better way to write that....

by Tim Gardner on July 1, 2011 at 9:35 PM. #

Thanks for helping me in my decision whether to see or not to see this movie! :)

by Susan Avello on July 4, 2011 at 8:47 AM. #

I saw Larry Crowne this weekend, and had flashbacks. In the late 90s, I worked at 2 companies (different industries) that had this same outlook. I actually had to sit in awful termination meetings at one (before I found another job).

It's just such a nonsensical approach to me, as is the "up or out" approach. A few years ago, I had a career conversation with a "senior lead engineer." He turned down promotional opportunities, but didn't turn down interesting assignments in other areas. He was a strong performer, so I asked him why he didn't want to move up. This was his reply, "Not everyone wants the keys to the store. If the choice is promotion or leave, I pick leave. I know I'm good at what I do, and I know what I want to do."

by Anonymous on July 6, 2011 at 8:51 PM. #

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