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Good input pays

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in Leaders & Managers,People Management

Gus, a director at a natural gas utility firm in the Northeast, discusses his attempt to preserve morale amid the latest in a series of companywide reorganizations.

I must admit this reorg is going better than the others. Maybe it’s because all of our employees are so beaten down that they’re willing to go along with anything. Or maybe it’s due to their unusual level of involvement.

In previous reorgs, we let people know what we were doing but we didn’t get much of a dialogue going. Workers were kept appraised of the situation after management made key decisions, but we didn’t provide a mechanism for them to come to us with their ideas or questions.

This time, we assembled groups of about 10 employees to bat around ideas on how we can make the best of the situation. The teams have met twice in the last month. The sessions went well and led to a laundry list of items that I was able to bring to the chief executive’s attention.

One of the best points that came out of these groups was a recommendation to create pools of laid-off workers who get first dibs on temporary or contract positions as they open up. While we’re not sure yet how many people we’ll let go in this round, our employees are understandably concerned and thinking ahead. They want a plan in place if their position is cut and they want to know the odds of getting rehired at some point later.

We also learned that people are frustrated with what they perceive as wasteful spending at the corporate level. They identified some specifics. We need to educate them on the necessity of certain investments even if the payoff isn’t readily apparent to them. 

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