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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More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- Figuring Out What to Do First
- Whether we belong to a small project team or to an executive team, we have limited resources and seemingly
unlimited problems to deal with. How do we decide which problems are important? How do we decide where
to focus our attention first?
- Team Thrills
- Occasionally we have the experience of belonging to a great team. Thrilling as it is, the experience
is rare. How can we make it happen more often?
- Four Popular Ways to Mismanage Layoffs: II
- Staff reduction is needed when expenses overtake revenue. But when layoffs are misused, or used too
late, they can harm the organization more than they help. Here's Part II of an exploration of four common
patterns of mismanagement, and some suggestions for those managers and other employees who recognize
the patterns in their own companies.
- The Retrospective Funding Problem
- If your organization regularly conducts project retrospectives, you're among the very fortunate. Many
organizations don't. But even among those that do, retrospectives are often underfunded, conducted by
amateurs, or too short. Often, key people "couldn't make it." We can do better than this.
What's stopping us?
- Irrational Deadlines
- Some deadlines are so unrealistic that from the outset we know we'll never meet them. Yet we keep setting
(and accepting) irrational deadlines. Why does this happen?
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming December 19: Embarrassment, Shame, and Guilt at Work: Creation
- Three feelings are often confused with each other: embarrassment, shame, and guilt. To understand how to cope with these feelings, begin by understanding what different kinds of situations we use when we create these feelings. Available here and by RSS on December 19.
- And on December 26: Embarrassment, Shame, and Guilt at Work: Coping
- Coping effectively with feelings of embarrassment, shame, or guilt is the path to recovering a sense of balance that's the foundation of clear thinking. And thinking clearly at work is important if you want to avoid feeling embarrassment, shame, or guilt. Available here and by RSS on December 26.
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- The Power Affect: How We Express Our Personal Power
- Many people who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.
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