Strategies for Reorganizing or Downsizing
The "Stress Doc's" Top Tips For Tip-Top Management
News For Our Nation's Neighborhood
BY MARK GORKIN, LICSW
In this era of organizational restructuring or downsizing, -or better still,
right-sizing, or most on target, what I call "frightsizing," the challenge for
top management is having the savvy and guts to gut much of your workforce while still
maintaining survivor productivity and team morale - that "esprit de corpse."
While some advocate a market - or politics-driven streamlining, I believe in a higher
level, visionary downsizing mode. To create a "lean-and-mean" working machine
requires an Olympian management team capable of both thunderously jolting a downtrodden,
demotivated workforce and being down to earth, "hands on" role models.
Warning- Some critics will claim these forthcoming strategies produce less
"lean-and-mean' operations and more "lean-and-mean-spirited" organizations.
Ignore such soft-headed, liberal posturing. Now for your "Top Ten' cutting edge
commandments. Go for it!
1. Keep Employees Grateful and Humble.
Continuously remind employee survivors they should be thankful to have a job. By not
filling those vacant positions there's less competition for eventual promotions (assuming,
of course, there's not another RIF - Reduction In Force). For recalcitrant, insufficiently
grateful employees, some cheerfully designed signs - "thank you for not whining' and
"beware the effects of second-hand whining" - may be prominently displayed in
the work and break areas).
2. Avoid Negative Feelings through Positive Motivation.
Hire a hot shot outplacement team to motivate people to ignore their feelings of betrayal,
fear and rage and to generate employee enthusiasm and positive thinking about updating the
resume. Reassure confused and vulnerable employees that a change of job or an out-of-state
position is the new learning curve they've probably needed. Hey, it's so prehistoric, so
"p.b" - pre-boomer - to work twenty or thirty years in one place.
3. Separate the Transitionally Displaced.
Create a transition center for the dispirited who no longer have a job (but are still on
payroll) that removes them from the rest of the company. Without distractions, these
isolates will focus expeditiously on their future career plans. (And don't let anyone
mistake this center for a leper colony; these individuals are ill-fated, not contagious.)
4. Beware the "Blame Game."
Refuse to have management employee team building/group grieving sessions; open expressions
of feelings just makes management the target of "another bitch session." (Please
do not impute any sexist connotation to either open blabbering or the aforementioned
"b"-word. These days, being a strong, silent John Wayne or Rambo-type is not
just a male thing. There are plenty of Rambettes out there.)
5. Don't Get Predictable.
Keep information about the restructuring as vague and inconsistent as possible. In fact,
the more disinformation the better. A certain amount of uncertainty heightens group
competition and, hopefully, will disorient your best people and/or intimidate them from
If absolutely necessary, allow a small matrix group to meet sporadically to provide only
positive ideas and buy in for your ever evolving company vision (or is it hallucination?;
so often it's such a fine line). Eventually retire the group with gilded framed team
7. Create Social Diversions.
Plan a company picnic, a Christmas dinner party, or some diversionary event for your
beleaguered, "survivor shock" employees. When not enough people sign up (or
refuse to contribute a potluck dish) send an e-mail saying how, because of lack of
employee interest, regretfully, the party had to be canceled.
In conclusion, if you or your executive management team has the courage and foresight
to enact one or more of these cutting edge strategies, please let me know. As a
reorganizational consultant, I certainly aspire to work with such a visionary,
progressively "lean-and MEAN "upper-management team. I understand loneliness at
the top. And believe me, you'll need all the help you can get!