The news of spreading layoffs, production pauses, and bankruptcy-driven closures is by now upsetting almost everyone and every organization. Sadly, the mismanagement that leads to the need for such drastic actions is being replicated in the way managers deal with layoffs. Here are the first two of four fairly common ways to bungle layoffs, emphasizing the personal perceptions of decision makers.
- Management delays action to repair the financial damage, hoping that "things will turn around when <whatever> happens."
- Usually, in procrastination, management can no longer repair the company's finances even by doing a major layoff. Because of delay, organizational survival is now threatened. They're willing to consider layoffs only when the alternative is total business failure. Employees have actually figured this out months ago, and some of the best people have already departed or are already searching for jobs.
- If you're in a position to do something about this pattern, remember that the earlier you act the better. Waiting rarely helps. And the longer you have already waited, the more important it is to act immediately. Don't worry about getting it perfectly right. It's far more important to make a start than to make a perfect start.
- If you aren't in a position to do anything about the layoff procrastination, you have three basic options: you can exit the company voluntarily, you can stay but prepare for a possible exit or layoff, or you can do nothing. Most choose the latter. Preparing for a layoff is probably wisest for those who can't move on. But if your personal situation permits it, exiting voluntarily can be an excellent choice, especially if you're among the first to exit, because once the layoffs begin, competition for available jobs elsewhere might be more rigorous.
- More insidious Denial and procrastination
are costly in themselves,
but they can create some
even more costly
synergistic patternsthan procrastination is denial, because management fails to see the need for reconfiguration. Spending, expansion, and even acquisitions often continue as if future projections were both accurate and optimistic.
- In procrastination, the nagging feeling that all is not well has a benign effect — it can make managers cautious. In denial, by contrast, caution is less common — the organization might actually go into a power dive.
- As an employee, denial is difficult to recognize, because your main sources of information are the very people who are in denial. But if you examine closely what they say about the parts of the company with which you are personally familiar, you might catch a glimpse of reality.
While denial and procrastination are costly in themselves, they can create some even more costly synergistic patterns. We can be in denial about whether we're procrastinating, and we can procrastinate about examining our actions for symptoms of denial.
Are your projects always (or almost always) late and over budget? Are your project teams plagued by turnover, burnout, and high defect rates? Turn your culture around. Read 52 Tips for Leaders of Project-Oriented Organizations, filled with tips and techniques for organizational leaders. Order Now!
Your comments are welcomeWould you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.
About Point Lookout
Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.
Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.
Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.
More articles on Personal, Team, and Organizational Effectiveness:
- First Aid for Painful Meetings
- The foundation of any team meeting is its agenda. A crisply focused agenda can make the difference between
a long, painful affair and finishing early. If you're the meeting organizer, develop and manage the
agenda for maximum effectiveness.
- How We Avoid Making Decisions
- When an important item remains on our To-Do list for a long time, it's possible that we've found ways
to avoid facing it. Some of the ways we do this are so clever that we may be unaware of them. Here's
a collection of techniques we use to avoid engaging difficult problems.
- Finding Work in Tough Times: Communications
- Finding work in tough times entails presenting yourself to many people. You'll be conversing, interviewing,
writing, presenting, and when you're finally successful, negotiating.
- How to Waste Time in Virtual Meetings
- Nearly everyone hates meetings, and virtual meetings are at the top of most people's lists. Here's a
catalog of some of the worst practices.
- Performance Mismanagement Systems: I
- Some well-intentioned performance management programs do more harm than good, possibly because of mistaken
fundamental beliefs. Specifically: the fallacy of composition, the reification error, the myth of identifiable
contributions, and the myth of omniscient supervision.
Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout
- Coming February 8: Kerfuffles That Seem Like Something More
- Much of what we regard as political conflict is a series of squabbles commonly called kerfuffles. They captivate us while they're underway, but after a month or two they're forgotten. Why do they happen? Why do they persist? Available here and by RSS on February 8.
- And on February 15: Four Razors for Organizational Behavior
- Deviant organizational behavior can harm the people and the organization. In choosing responses, we consider what drives the perpetrators. Considering Malice, Incompetence, Ignorance, and Greed, we can devise four guidelines for making these choices. Available here and by RSS on February 15.
I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenZLkFdSHmlHvCaSsuner@ChacbnsTPttsdDaRAswloCanyon.com or (650) 787-6475, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.
Get the ebook!
Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:
- Get 2001-2 in Geese Don't Land on Twigs (PDF, )
- Get 2003-4 in Why Dogs Wag (PDF, )
- Get 2005-6 in Loopy Things We Do (PDF, )
- Get 2007-8 in Things We Believe That Maybe Aren't So True (PDF, )
- Get 2009-10 in The Questions Not Asked (PDF, )
- Get all of the first twelve years (2001-2012) in The Collected Issues of Point Lookout (PDF, )
Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500-1000 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info