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Medium 9781599960616

What about the media?

Terri A. Deems HRD Press PDF

MPG Downsizing wConfidence.qxd

Question

3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 83

9

What about the media?

Will you have to deal with the media? Probably.

Is it important how you deal with the media?

You better believe it!

Here’s an example of why it’s important how you deal with the media. Two organizations in the same city downsized within three weeks of each other. The first organization, with several thousand employees, downsized by only ten managers—not a big number. But it made the newspaper’s front page below the fold the morning after the downsizing took place. And two days later, there was another major article on the front page of the business section.

The articles reported all the details of the downsizing and described the organization’s problems, how the people were told (in a group meeting), and that no assistance was provided to the terminated employees. The articles also reported how difficult it was to get information from the organization’s leaders. Those leaders mistakenly did not make themselves available until after the first article appeared.

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

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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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What if we need some ofthese people in nine months?

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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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How do we tell the peoplewho will remain?

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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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Is career transition assistancereally necessary?

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3/20/2007

7:36 AM

Page 92

The Manager’s Pocket Guide to Downsizing with Confidence

The Deems Job Loss

Reaction CycleTM

In an earlier career, Richard Deems spent a good deal of time coaching people who had terminal illness or who had watched a loved one die. He became very familiar with the death and dying reactions of people, outlined and discussed in detail by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross. When Richard went through his own job loss, he tried to apply the several-stage Kübler-Ross paradigm to his own situation. It didn’t always match.

That began many years of researching what happens to people who have lost their jobs. As he talked with others, and kept in mind his own experience of job loss, Richard began to identify a six-stage process. His research indicates that everyone who loses a job goes through all the stages. Some take longer than others. Most get to Acceptance and Affirmation within a few weeks. A very few never move out of Shock and

Disbelief or Anger and Resentment.

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