12 Slices
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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Medium 9781599960616

Why should we worry?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 2

The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Downsizing with Confidence

Litigation and Effects on

Exiting Employees

It’s pretty easy to brush a downsizing off as

“just a business decision—nothing personal.”

But if you’ve ever been “downsized,” you know it can be one of the most personal things an employee ever goes through. It can impact a person’s finances, their sense of self, their relationships with family and friends, and much more. To those directly affected, it is indeed very personal!

Our own research suggests that how a downsizing is conducted can have a tremendous impact on the person who must exit. Done well, with real respect for exiting employees, people leave with positive energy to devote to their job search, strong self-esteem, a sense of resilience, and a higher regard for the organization. Typically their job search time is shorter and less stressful. But when a downsizing is done poorly, people leave angry, confused, even shamed. Self-esteem can crumble, trust is eroded, and energy is often directed to “hitting back” at the organization or decision makers rather than toward moving forward in their careers. Oftentimes, people attempt to hit back by contacting a lawyer.

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Medium 9781599960616

Do we do it all at onceor in phases?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 73

8

Do we do it all at once or in phases?

That’s a tough question, because there are advantages and disadvantages to either strategy.

What is essential is to remember care and control. Do all you can to show the people—both those exiting and those remaining—that you care about them. And do all you can to stay in control of the process.

If you have more than one location, then a phased downsizing might be a viable option. Or if you have a large downsizing, informing people by departments might be an option. Example:

You inform IT today, R & D tomorrow, and so on. Here are advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of a Phased Downsizing

In a phased downsizing, you implement the downsizing by location, or department, or level, or whatever makes sense to you. Here are several advantages:

1. With a phased downsizing, fewer employees are involved at one time. You typically notify one department or location at a time, which means there are fewer people immediately impacted. In most situations, there is less

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Medium 9781599960616

How do we select who goes?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 19

4

How do we select who goes?

Selecting which jobs to eliminate is a fairly straightforward decision. You take a look at your business needs and then identify the number and kinds of jobs it will take to turn the plan into actuality. But selecting which jobs stay or go is different than selecting what people stay or go. What do you do if you need only 5 night supervisors and you have 8? Or you need only 15 IT people and you have 21?

How you select who goes and who stays is a significant effort. Here are five guidelines:

1. Deal with performance issues early.

If you’re considering downsizing to resolve performance issues, forget it. A downsizing is not the time to deal with people whose performance is below minimum standards.

The time to deal with those folks was before, as part of a continuous performance improvement strategy.

A downsizing is completed to make a correction in the number of human resources that a company has in order to reach organizational goals. It’s not a way to “safely” eliminate marginal employees.

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Now what?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 113

12

Now what?

You have read this downsizing book, you’ve considered all the issues, and you’ve developed your plan. You’ve reviewed it, slept on it, noodled it in the middle of the night, and even spent those extra dollars to have someone go over your plan with you to identify any weak spots. And you made the corrections.

Now what?

Do it!

If you’re convinced your plan is thorough, then the next action is to schedule the downsizing.

The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be for you to carry out those plans with the energy you will need. Look at the calendar and identify the day when you can do your downsizing. And then plan on getting extra sleep, more exercise, good nutrition, and less alcohol and caffeine between now and then.

You’ll need all the energy you can get to implement a downsizing that doesn’t leave the exiting employees devastated, the remaining employees angry, the decision makers stressed, and the company open to litigation or lost business.

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