The Number One Rule You Must Remember
The topic of workforce reduction is never an easy one – especially when it is being used as a cost-cutting measure rather than one based only on performance. But sometimes you must be lean and let people go. If that is your situation in this tough reality, be certain you have gone through the process of wisely choosing your winners, communicating their significance and surrounding them with support. You need them to be secure in their role and longevity.
The second people begin to be laid off, fired or the newly popular “furloughed,” everyone left behind gets nervous. They worry about what that means to the future of their own careers and the direction of the company. It is essential for a company to communicate as transparently as possible during a staff reduction to assuage people’s concerns that the change is not a sign to panic. That the move is a necessary adjustment to the turbulent winds of the situation and the company is now heading in the right direction.
Employees need to move forward and begin the “I’ve made the cut” healing process without having to worry about the new round of terminations.
You have heard the saying measure twice and cut once? It is true for human resources as well. A series of cuts is much worse than one big one. We believe in this “one-time cut” rule to the point that our recommendation is, if you are unsure of your ability to sustain your reduced staffing level, go one step further to get extra lean. It is always easier to add new hires to an engaged workforce than to have your entire group continually unsure and afraid because of second and third rounds of cuts.
That’s because one cut is considered an adjustment. A series of cuts is considered erratic behavior. And anything that is erratic cannot be trusted. Once you lose faith and trust in a company, you damage your culture which has long-term implications. It’s relatively easy to build back into a culture where there is loyalty and a belief in the vision. Once you have rattled that culture by the continuation of cutting, it’s difficult to fully restore it.
The good news is that you can make one cut without damaging your culture. And if you do it right, it is absolutely possible to have a major shift in the composition of your team and come out the other side stronger and more aligned.
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