Going Long in The People Commodity

I get it. Today’s economic survival demands cost cutting, and difficult operational decisions. To keep the company above water and able to deliver to customers letting people go is sometimes the only option. Laying off is an ugly and difficult part of the job, especially as Sales Leader or manager.

The problem is far too much emphasis in layoffs goes to the reduction process and not enough to the retention process

The most impacting part of a layoff is NOT those being laid off but those retained. The remaining employees are the people being counted on to move things forward. Success or failure is in the hands of those staying behind, picking up the slack and doing more with less. Unfortunately, very little attention is paid to these folks.

One of the biggest opportunities at times like this is to concentrate on TALENT. This is the time to find the best talent in the organization and KEEP IT. This is the time to play favorites. I don’t prescribe to the idea of not playing favorites with employees. Identify the best of the best in the organization, in every department and treat them like gold. Create a special program, group or internal organization for the most talented and let them know they are completely safe from layoffs. Let them know they have been identified as the core talent in the organization and the future of the company is in their hands and therefore they never need worry about being laid off. Removing fear and uncertainty will create a SAFE environment.

To be successful, a solid, comprehensive talent identification process needs to be done through out the organization. (I am using the term TALENT deliberately, and not performance as far too often performance is used to inaccurately measure talent) A Talent assessment process should be identified and implemented across all functional groups. Assessments should be cross functional with input coming for all aspects of the business.

Where talent gaps exist, HIRE, HIRE, HIRE. Talent is in high supply, go get it.

Too many organizations allow the finance team, and broad brush assessments to dictate the layoffs based one everything but talent. Things like Management span of control, poor performing business segments, or discontinued products drive the layoff process taking highly talented people out of the organization because they were in the wrong position. Talent is in all parts of the business. Find the talent, move them if they are in under performing segments of the business, make them feel safe, and create incentives that reward them for turning the business around.

It’s the people that stay that are going to make the difference.

Laying off people is shorting the market. Keeping and rewarding the most impressive talent in the organization is longing the market. Longing the market with Talent is the hedge. Why don’t organizations long talent in down markets?

You got me.