Lately, many companies are in deep financial doo-doo. Some have addressed this issue by downsizing. Basically, they fire a lot of people. Often this tactic is so harmful to the company that customers, shareholders, and employees wonder whether management is actually trying to hurt the company.
Is that really possible? To evaluate the performance of your company's Chief Downsizing Officer (CDO), use this handy checklist for executives who really want to ruin their companies in an effective manner.
- Be sneaky
- Don't let on that you're about to fire 20% of your employees. Giving people a heads up just lets them avoid major purchases and warn their families.
- Maintain executive compensation
- Don't reduce executive compensation at all. If possible, increase it. This builds resentment among employees, insecurity among customers, and fury among shareholders.
- Don't downsize enough
- Maintaining or increasing
during a time of cost
reduction and layoffs
is a great way to
- Make sure that you'll have to downsize again. Doing it twice in quick succession puts everyone on edge permanently.
- Announce rolling layoffs
- Tell everyone you plan monthly reductions for the foreseeable future, because rolling layoffs could reduce the total number of people affected, assuming conditions improve. But you know what will really happen — people will believe that every month is their last.
- Schedule the announcement for December 24th
- In Europe, Australia, and the Americas, the optimum time for downsizing announcements is just before Christmas. That way, people will already have spent more money than they would have if only they had known. No point hurting the economy too.
- Don't solicit volunteers
- Some people actually want to leave — they would prefer a layoff to quitting. Don't lay off people who want to leave, while you keep people who want to stay. You can do more damage if you lay off people who want to stay, while you keep people who want to leave.
- Offer early retirement
- Early retirement programs offer a relatively safe way to jettison your most valuable and experienced people first, without the legal risks of laying somebody off one week before they become eligible for retirement.
- Don't close unprofitable operations
- Keep them running. They'll probably lose even more money with only 80% of their staff. Instead, close or spin off any profitable operations, assuming you have any.
- Don't cancel any initiatives
- Internal initiatives, especially those with only long-term benefits, should remain at high priority. If you must cancel something, cancel anything that might immediately cut expenses or shorten the sales cycle.
- Hint that there might be more
- In media interviews, when asked if these cuts are the last, squirm. This signals the employees who have alternatives — who are, of course, the most difficult to replace — to get moving on job searches.
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Why does this happen?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 11: The Rhyme-as-Reason Effect
- When we speak or write, the phrases we use have both form and meaning. Although we usually think of form and meaning as distinct, we tend to assess as more meaningful and valid those phrases that are more beautifully formed. The rhyme-as-reason effect causes us to confuse the validity of a phrase with its aesthetics. Available here and by RSS on December 11.
- And on December 18: The Trap of Beautiful Language
- As we assess the validity of others' statements, we risk making a characteristically human error — we confuse the beauty of their language with the reliability of its meaning. We're easily thrown off by alliteration, anaphora, epistrophe, and chiasmus. Available here and by RSS on December 18.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
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