Posts Tagged 'Values'

Approaching redundancy with care

Some of you may have heard about Aviva’s recent faux pas when they accidentally sacked 1300 members of staff in 1 quick tap on the key board. A calamity for the HR department responsible for sending an email to 1300 people asking them to pack their bags and leave the building, when really it should have gone to just one person. Surely though, irrespective of the mistake of getting the audience wrong, is sacking by email really an acceptable way of letting staff go?

For anyone involved in Change Management, HR or Communications, the how and when of communicating redundancies often creates a high level of tension and discussion. The choices of who should communicate the message, how it should be communicated and when, always bring out different personal views and different cultural perspectives. Often those involved in making the decisions are influenced by either previous personal experiences or seeing what has worked or not worked in different organisations.

In all cases, I would encourage the decision makers to take a step back when thinking about the redundancy strategy. The decisions should be based on:

Being consistent with the Corporate values

Recognising that everyone who becomes and ex employee will be an advocate or an opponent and will build or damage your brand

Putting yourself in the shoes of those receiving the news

I am sure that if these 3 things are considered then the approach to communicating redundancy would change in many organisations. And more often than not the reasons for using short cuts (like sending an email) or impersonal and often fear based approaches would be shown up as being inconsiderate and unnecessary.

Whilst making people redundant is a difficult experience for all involved, I have seen it work well in organisations so people leave with their dignity intact. My hope is that more organisations will consider the big picture before getting in to a debate about the process.

Advertisements

Reasons to avoid difficult conversations

Ever find yourself coming up with reasons to justify why you avoid having conversations that are difficult or confrontational?

As I talk with people in business about the challenges they are facing, it often becomes clear that they are avoiding the difficult conversations or using them as an opportunity to attack others. Which ever path is taken, it tends to mean that you have no chance of achieving the results you want. This has a corrosive effect on the business and for the people involved. Some of the unproductive knocks on effects of these behaviours are:

» Time wasted on conversations that don’t achieve anything
» Break down in relationships that are needed to get things done
» Loss of innovative thinking
» Negative impact on productivity due to time wasted on the wrong actions, the wrong conversations and remedial activities

A Mercer study (2005) showed that only 39% of employees believe mangers do a good job confronting issues before they turn in to major problems. If 60% managers aren’t dealing with the big issues why is it and what can be done about it? What does it mean about the behaviours of these managers, what stops them from confronting issues and having difficult conversations?

There seem to be two main reasons that people don’t have conversations that are difficult or potentially confrontational. Our ability and willingness to have these conversations is dependent on:

» Each person’s previous experience of dealing with difficult conversations – both in the workplace and in other aspects of life. For instance, someone who has been embarrassed, belittled or ignored may find it difficult to say what is on their mind
» The culture of the organisation – does it encourage debate at all levels, is conflict managed so it’s productive, is power/ hierarchy seen as a given when decisions and discussions take place?

Given that we all have different experiences that shape our ability to have difficult conversations and you may be working in an environment that doesn’t encourage these discussions to take place, what can you do and what are the likely results?

Fear tends to prevent people from having the difficult conversations. A starting point when coaching people facing this situation is to be clear on:
» What’s the result that you want to achieve by having the conversation?
And
» What are the consequences of not having the conversation?

Being clear on the outcome you want makes it easier to articulate it clearly and to hold your ground. And thinking about the consequences of not having the conversation often makes it clear that you have to do something differently. For instance, you may realise that not having the conversation is damaging the ability of you and others to get work done; it may be blocking the development of new ideas and could even lead to inappropriate actions being taken. On a personal level it may increase your stress levels, effect relationships and lead to disengagement.

The consequences of not doing anything usually outweigh the risk of doing something. To help you prepare and be ready for the difficult conversations that will arise at some point in your work, take a look at the Kandula tips on Having Difficult Conversations

We must have open and honest communication

How many times have you heard this being said in your organisation? Or seen it as one of your company’s values?

I often run focus groups or interview people in organisations to understand what they want in their communication and inevitably this comes out – we must have open and honest conversations. When I probe this a little bit further it unearths all sorts of issues – for me it’s a communication and organisational minefield.

Organisationally or as a leader I really think you are shooting yourself in the foot if you put this one out as one of your values or principles. Continue reading ‘We must have open and honest communication’