12 Slices
Medium 9781599960616

What are our real needs?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 11

2

What are our real needs?

You can’t adequately plan a downsizing until you know what your real needs include. The way you determine your real needs is to examine your strategic plan and the resources called for.

If you don’t, you may be like other organizations that downsized in one department while hiring in another at the same time. Or they downsized only to have to rehire six months later because they could no longer meet performance demands. That’s a tremendous waste of financial resources, time, and energy.

Besides, it makes management look like they don’t know what they’re doing.

Research suggests that many, if not most, downsizings fail to achieve the goals toward which the downsizing was directed. Often this failure can be avoided by planning more thoughtfully, carefully identifying downsizing goals, and accurately assessing what is needed to achieve your goals.

Examine Your Strategic and Business Plans

If you have not already done so, gather your best minds together and take a hard, realistic look

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Medium 9781599960616

How do we tell the peoplewho will remain?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 63

7

How do we tell the people who will remain?

Of all the downsizings in which WorkLife Design has participated, one of the very first set the standard for telling remaining employees. You tell them direct, in person, and as quickly as possible.

In one insurance company of about 750 employees, the downsizing was conducted in one day.

People whose jobs were eliminated were told by departments. As soon as everyone was told in one department, the team moved on to the next department. It worked in that culture.

After exiting people had been told, the CEO returned to each department. He brought with him people to answer department phones and to handle other immediate work needs. Then he gathered the remaining employees around him. He stood in the middle and briefly told the people what had happened, and why. He talked about the severance policy that was in place, and the kinds of assistance exiting employees were receiving. Then he asked for questions.

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Medium 9781599960616

How much planning timedo we really need?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 15

3

How much planning time do we really need?

The amount of time you take from the moment the decision to downsize is made and when the downsizing actually takes place depends on how hard you work and how smart you work. In most instances, it should take only a few weeks, not months.

If you take months to plan the downsizing, your leaders will become stressed. The downsizing will be their major concern. Other, sometimes more strategic, issues will get overlooked or not given enough time or energy. The whole organization will falter. You increase the risk that downsizing plans will get leaked to the workforce (or the press) before you want that to happen.

So how long does it take?

It takes long enough to:

• Evaluate your business plan and identify the skills/positions you’ll need.

• Identify the positions that are redundant or that for some other reason you can eliminate.

• Complete a discrimination analysis of the workforce before the downsizing and after the downsizing to determine if any bias appears

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Medium 9781599960616

What if we need some ofthese people in nine months?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 107

11

What if we need some of these people in nine months?

The crunch for good people will increase in the coming years. Why? There simply aren’t enough good people to go around. If you read the earlier section on Future Recruiting Status

(see Question 1), then you understand why you need to be careful about how you do a downsizing. After all, you may well need some of those people down the road.

If you didn’t read Future Recruiting Status in the Question 1 discussion, then turn to it now and read it. Then return to Question 11.

Downsizings are temporary actions. They are conducted to reduce costs so that your organization can continue to be healthy. If you lead well, then you may need some of these people you’re letting go at some point in the future—maybe in six months, nine months, or two years. But unless you really messed it up, your drive to make the organization successful will put you back in the growth mode. Then you’ll be competing for an increasingly shrinking pool of real talent.

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Medium 9781599960616

How—and what—do we tellthe people who will exit?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 31

6

How—and what—do we tell the people who will exit?

By now, several critical decisions have been made. You’re confident that the downsizing is the best choice to meet business needs, and you know the resources it’s going to take to achieve your goals. You’re confident that your criteria for selection are fair and unbiased. You know who will be leaving and when. And now you wonder,

“How do we tell the people who will exit?”

You tell the people with care and control, with class, and with empathy. There have been lots of horror stories over the years about how not to do it. One bank manager walked into her office one morning and found an envelope on her desk with her name written on it. She opened it and read, “Dear Terminated Employee.” That’s not the way to do it.

You also don’t do it the way some of the dotcoms downsized. You don’t just close down people’s computers and wait for them to realize their screen is dead and they no longer have access to do their work. Nor should you send an employee an e-mail informing them that their job has been eliminated and they have

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