- December 27, 2017
- Posted by: David Marshall
- Category: Leadership, Management, Measurement
While I never had to make any layoffs in my career, I’ve seen them happen, and often without any real plan to help the company further.
I can say that while I’ve never done a layoff in my own career, I have reduced the workforce to help it run at peak efficiency, like firing third shift workers who were asleep on the job or upgrading a plant to include more automation and labor saving machinery.
Still, I’m surprised when individual contributors are let go, the people who actually do the work the company needs: the production staff, the graphic designers, the customer service reps, the salesforce, and so on. These are the people doing the work the company relied on, but they’re also seemingly let go without rhyme or reason.
I’ve been in situations where I wondered “why is this person being let go and that other idiot is still here?” I’m sure you’ve seen this too. It happens because there was no objective measure of the employees’ efforts, and so people made uninformed decisions based on any number of subjective reasons, never looking at whether the people that were being cut were the ones doing the best work for the company.
I’ve been a proponent of objective measurement in the workplace for years. It helped us eliminate a lot of the dead wood around the company, reduce the headcount of people who were either not contributing very much, or were even having a negative effect on the company.
We not only measured our associates out on the floor, we also measured our back office staff too, including the managers and executives.
The point was to ensure we met certain benchmarks that showed the difference between acceptable performance and low performance, the difference between doing your job and not doing it. And because this was ongoing, it was easy to identify small problems before they became large problems or company-wide trends.
This allowed our managers to deal with the situations as they arose, providing additional training, reassigning someone to a different area, or if necessary, termination.
The one thing that is lacking in a lot of organizations is effective quantifiable measurements of all the constituents because that will tell you very quickly whether you have an effective individual contributor, manager, or executive.
Quantifiable measurements are absolutely objective. You can find the individual contributors who are doing the work without a lot of management oversight, and you can find the middle managers who are getting great work out of their departments. But unless organizations quantifiably measure their human talent to ensure that everyone is working to the benefit of the enterprise, there will always be seemingly random layoffs of some of the best employees.
Objective measurement can help companies eliminate the deadwood and staff that are a drain on company and management resources, and keep the people who help the company run. In fact, with this kind of trimming of the fat, a company can be more profitable and more efficient with fewer people and produce more than they did with bigger workforces.
I’ve been a manufacturing executive, as well as a sales and marketing professional, for a few decades. Now I help companies turn around their own business. If you would like more information, please visit my website and connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Photo credit: Billy Bob Bain (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)