Downsizing during a crisis: How to lift employees up when you have to let them go

At the end of 2019 Australian employment rates were as high as they had been in some time. The government was getting ready to announce its first budget surplus in over ten years. People had high hopes for the new decade.

Then COVID hit. Many industries were impacted immediately, while many more have found themselves increasingly affected as the months have gone on. Which leaves many of us facing a tough situation: Downsizing organisations and saying permanent goodbyes to employees.

In such an overwhelming and unprecedented situation, how do you go about carrying out a restructure? Logistically it can be hard to exit employees en masse. But it is also challenging from a human point of view – how can you lift these valued members of your team up at the same time you have to let them go? What will be the impact on the remaining employees?

Challenging the status quo: Increasing business value through leadership diversity

Organisational gender diversity, particular at the executive level of business, has been a topic of discussion globally for a long time. While there has been some movement in diversifying business in recent years, we are still seeing large disparities in representation.

So, why has it been so difficult to get more females into management and executive roles in businesses?

In our latest Disruption Circle event, we discussed the issues of leadership and diversity with guest speaker Michelle Guthrie. A lawyer and business executive who has held positions at News International, Foxtel, Google and the ABC, Michelle shared her experiences and suggestions for industry-wide improvements.

The outcome was that there are tangible advantages of leadership diversity, and that there is a unique opportunity for businesses and individuals right now to achieve true diversity and organisational change.

Prioritising people and shining a light on leaders: How to make the most out of disruption

Over the last 10 or so weeks, disruption has become the norm. But just as many of us are starting to get used to our new normal, it’s all changing again. While a lot of attention has been focused on how our current situation is affecting operations and economics, it’s also affecting something else – people.

This will become even more noticeable as we move into this next disruption. As many businesses get back on track and move their people back into more traditional work environments, people, disruption, and wellness will intersect.

It’s not surprising that this topic took centre stage at our latest Disruption Circle with guest speaker Daryl Mahon, former Vice President at Ford Motor Company.

But while this is a moment of fear for many – for personal safety and business performance – we received valuable insights into how it also presents an opportunity for outstanding people leaders to demonstrate their skills.

Without a Template: Leading through the COVID crisis

On the 15th March the Prime Minister announced the National Cabinet response to COVID-19. Suddenly we had no template and everything we thought we knew doesn’t apply, and quite abruptly we’re wading into some very murky and unchartered waters.

During times of uncertainty, everyone in an organisation takes their cues from the leadership team. Often, challenging times can reveal the true character of a business and its leaders – for better or worse.

So, what does good leadership look like in such an unprecedented crisis?

In our latest Disruption Circle video conference, we invited someone who knows just how to answer this question. Klaus Duetoft is Vice President People International at eBay Inc and has geographic responsibility for AP, major Asian countries along with some other international markets. In addition, he is a member of the eBay Inc Global People Leadership team. He, along with a group of prominent HR leaders discussed the key qualities and behaviours leaders should be channelling to guide their organisation through COVID-19 and the inevitable instability of the post-Corona future.

To Klaus, it seems that the old adage ‘actions speak louder than words’ is very much at the crux of a leader’s successful navigation through the disruption that comes with COVID-19. The most important fact remains that your team will remember the way you responded during this period, so make your behaviour deliberate and measured, and then learn how to future-proof. 

Speak up! How building a good organisational culture can help manage disruption

How you plan for change plays a big part in the effectiveness of your strategy and the outcome across the entire organisation. However, it’s not always easy to plan for change. Sometimes, change is spontaneous.

This is a very dominant issue right now, as many organisations grapple with the fallout of COVID-19. Disruption, you might say, has never been more prevalent. So, what is the course of action in these surprise situations?

The answer, it seems, isn’t in an action plan or strategy, but could be in the foundational culture your organisation is built on. In our last Disruption Circle event, prominent HR directors discussed the important role business culture plays in change management.

It seems that things we do in non-disrupted periods can really affect the way all change (even when spontaneous) is effectively managed. Simply encouraging employees to ‘speak up’ can help you better weather the storm of uncomfortable change.

Future of Work 2019: What the data tells us and how to apply it to your organisation

How do you run a better business that drives outcomes for the business and for your employees? How do you know what is working and what isn’t? How can you tell how your organisation compares to those in your industry? 

These questions led the GOIP to publish their annual Future of Work report every year. Future of Work allows you to glean insights into the processes of hundreds of businesses like yours from across the world to see what is impacting who, and why. 

Learning from your own actions and those of others provides great insight into how you can improve your overall outcomes. 

This year’s report comprises answers from 1000 talent managers across a range of industries and over 25 different countries.

Here we’ll unpack the three biggest insights we think will be affecting organisations like yours in the next 12+ months, and how you can make them work to your advantage.

Can we really manage the pace of change?

It’s a game-changing question. And traditional top-down leadership is no longer the answer.

It certainly seems that “change is the new black”, and certainly the new normal. The companies that will not only survive but thrive during this new era are those that can shift their thinking.

If you want to successfully adjust to this ‘new normal’, it’s time to switch your mindset from “change management” to“changing the way we manage”.

 

Four crucial tips for making the shift

1. Build trust now

Without foundational behaviour of a cohesive team, none of the rest is even truly possible. As Patrick Lencione insists, “Trust can only happen when team members are willing to be completely vulnerable with one another.

There is confidence among team members that their peers’ intentions are good and that there is no reason to be protective or careful around each other.

2. Create team agreements

Then stick to them. Team agreements go beyond fluffy value words framed on the walls of the office. They pinpoint specific ways team members agree to behave, and what the team agrees to do when any one of the members falls short in upholding the agreements.

This drives accountability away from “top-down” management and towards peer-to-peer responsibility. If there are one or two bad seeds who consistently hold the rest of the team back, having a peer or two call them out and possibly stop inviting them into various projects is likely to be a very powerful management tool.

3. Insist on and reward collaboration

No one person is as smart as the collective whole, and, after all, you hired smart people to get great work done. Get them together, give some direction, and get out of their way to get great work accomplished.

Rod Collins, author of Wiki Management: A Revolutionary New Model for a Rapidly Changing and Collaborative World, describes it in this way: “Top-down hierarchies are designed on the premise that an organization’s intelligence resides in a select number of star performers who leverage their expertise through the power to direct and control the work of others.

Self-organized peer-to-peer networks, on the other hand, are built upon the principle that an organization’s intelligence resides in the diversity of its members who leverage their collective knowledge through the power to connect and collaborate with each other.” In short, think network and lattice organization charts versus the linear top-down models of the past

4. Sharpen the organization’s focus on the customer

Supply-chain-driven organizations focus on producing 5 million widgets a day and shipping them around the globe within 24 hours. But if the widgets aren’t the right colour or don’t fit with customers’ existing widgets, who cares how many and how fast?

In our culture of “change is the new normal,” the customer’s power of choice is king (or queen) and ultimately supersedes the organization’s power to produce. The nimble organizations are those that build their people operations and systems to respond to and even stay ahead of fickle customer wants.

Change your approach, change your results

If traditional managers want their organizations to have the capacity to change as fast as the world around them, they will need to embrace the new reality that managing great change is only possible if they change how they manage.”–Rod Collins.

It’s rather ironic that through all the change they instigate, the management team (and their approaches) can be the hardest to change.

If your organisation is looking for a way to keep up with the pace of change through changing the way you manage, engaging with a professional can go a long way to getting you on the right track.

Choice Career Services specialises in innovative change management. We help businesses deal with many different types of organizational change through avenues that are successful and sustainable.

What is your organization doing to change the way it manages versus continuing to implement “change management” initiatives?

For further advice on making the change, click here to contact Choice Career Services.

What difference can a year make? How the Future of Work has changed your work future

Humans are by nature curious creatures –and it’s no different when it comes to work environments. In fact, the competitive environment of business means the opportunity to know what is happening with your competitors, in your industry and in business in general is hard to resist.

The OIGP Future of Work Study provides unprecedented insights into the management of thousands of businesses worldwide, thanks to the yearly survey carried out by HR and General Management roles in a range of industries across the globe.

This information allows you to see how you stack up against others –and helps you determine how to improve on things like talent acquisition, training and engagement.

your work environment and priorities have changed –and how you’ve invested in your talent over the last year to create positive change.

Future of Work 2018 –what did we learn?

Change is a challenge

Across the board, attracting and hiring new talent was a struggle in 2018. But it was closely followed by adapting to change. Regardless of your industry, many workplaces are being affected by an increase and frequency of change and disruption. Internal teams often find change difficult to manage and approach it blindly, which demonstrates a potential to focus on this as a point of improvement.

The top five challenges also included retaining talent and employee engagement, which go hand in hand –lose one, and you’ll lose the other.

The power of people persons

We’ve spoken about the challenge of attracting talent –but for you, what does ‘talent’ look like? 2018 survey results show that far more than anything else, businesses are looking for leadership agility and the ability to coordinate with others. People-based skills are becoming more and more desirable as historically important technical skills can now be more easily accomplished through technological advancements.

The popularity of these skills can also be attributed back to the culture of change, and the need for employees to be able to adapt to it.

Traditional development still reigns

The more things change, the more they stay the same. While in some areas we see traditional preferences subsiding, within employee development, traditional methods still reign supreme.

In 2018 internal leadership development programs were still the most favoured way to develop the talent of employees.

However, a growing favour towards adopting coaching as a development tactic has continued to grow steadily over the last few years –hinting at a change in approach for many businesses.

What will 2019 bring?

It’s not simple to say –while there have been few dramatic shifts over the last few years, the top priorities often change position and hint at new trends each year.

While we’ll have to wait another month to see the results, we have a few predictions:

  • Change management will continue to be both a priority and a struggle, and businesses will start looking for a new way to manage it
  • Engaging professional, external assistance to adapt to change will be explored further
  • Coaching will continue to become a more valued and popular form of employee development.

If you’re interested in re-examining the 2018 report in full details, you can find it here.

If you want to know how your experiences compare and learn more those in your industry, you still have time to take part in this year’s survey.

Once the report is complete, you’ll be able to access a copy to help you determine how best to attract, retain and manage your talent for 2020.

If you would like more information on The Future of Work, or if you have any questions, please feel free to contact Choice Career Services by clicking here. If you feel your organisation would benefit from a direct consultation with us, you can reach me on +61 3 9326 4884.

Effective managers do these 3 things

As a manager, you are in a tough spot. At times, it can feel like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

On one hand, you must understand, support and ensure your team’s share of the organisation’s goals are achieved, no matter what. And, on the other hand, you must understand and support your team members to ensure they have what they need (such as information, resources, buy-in from senior management) to achieve the goals that have been assigned to them.

When things are going well – team members are happy and engaged; the organisation is hitting its goals, making money – the burden on managers can more easily be carried.

However, inevitably, things get bumpy, and managers must be the bearer of “bad news” (such as implementing expense reductions, providing negative feedback, telling senior management a mistake has been made or that a key goal will be missed).

Three steps to great management

It is precisely at these rocky times that managers can make a withdrawal from the bank of goodwill (a rainy-day fund, if you will) that was built up during the “good times.”

The time spent building and nurturing mutual respect and trust yields short- and long-term benefits. That is why it is critical to do the following three things, every day:

#1: Understand

Everyone has priorities. Organisations do too. It is critical to understand what is important to the people that work with you and what is important to the organisation in which you and your team work.

This is not stagnant; rather, it is fluid; it can change in a moment’s notice due to internal and/or external factors. Check in often with your people and your senior management to ensure your perception of the priorities matches reality.

#2: Communicate

This goes beyond staff meetings and one-on-one meetings. Effective communication requires an “outside-in” mindset. Anything you communicate will be filtered through a person’s and/or an organisation’s priorities.

You may be trying to communicate something that is very important; however, if what you’re communicating does not correlate to your audience’s priorities, then you will have a difficult time getting your audience to engage and do what you need them to do.

#3: Connect

Managers are at the crossroads between their teams and senior management. You are an advocate for your team as well as an advocate for the organisation. To do both effectively, connect your team’s priorities with the organisation’s priorities.

Your team members should feel they and their needs are a priority of the organisation; likewise, senior management should feel that your team understands and is engaged in the organisation’s priorities. Managers are the key link in connecting these two together.

 

Make the most of your position

While difficult, being an effective manager can be very rewarding. Both sides will appreciate your hard work, understanding and advocacy, and they will reward you with their respect and trust.

I would love to hear about your experiences as a manager and what challenges you have faced and what you found to be effective in overcoming them.

For more information on how you can upskill new managers to thrive in their new role, contact Choice Career Services by clicking here. We understand that helping your managers succeed can be quite a personal process, so if you feel your organisation would benefit from a direct consultation, you can reach me on +61 3 9326 4884.

This blog was adapted from Chris Medici’s original article ‘Effective Managers Do These Three Things’.  Chris is Principal of Medici Consulting Services, Inc., a branding, marketing and communications consulting business. He has more than 25 years of professional experience, encompassing a diverse range of sectors and markets including government, health care, law, financial services, and energy.