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Is “Layoff the Layoffs” Good Advice?

Is it me or is it reality that in this economic crisis the conversation about “streamlining” always seems to lead back to job slashing. I’m watching a TV debate as a write this post about layoffs and how some executives have different ideas.
It seems that the knee-jerk reaction to bad times is cutting headcount. The question I pose is: why isn’t there more talk about improving people and operational productivity as a better solution? Rarely is the conversation about that. I’m not saying that staff layoffs aren’t warranted in some situations — don’t get me wrong. Sometimes there’s no other option. But what about the fallout from major job slashing?
How much effort, time, and money is it going to take to recapture and rebuild morale of those left behind? How can the organization continue without experienced people to do the work? There’s a lot to think through. Cutting jobs may have some hidden costs so maybe the net gain is 0.
We at COMPROSE were talking about this very issue recently with a retired C-level executive of a major corporation that is now caught smack in the middle of the economic meltdown. In his opinion the reason many companies are struggling today is that they don’t pay enough attention to operating efficiently all the time and don’t make staying “lean and mean” part of their culture in the good times as well as the bad ones.
Many of the companies resorting to massive layoffs failed to instill a culture of accountability and neglected day-to-day operations. Because when times were easier they put operations and ongoing corporate training “on the back burner” and operated haphazardly without standardized policies and procedures and good systems in place, many grew “fat” and unwieldy; now they are facing the nightmare of massive job cuts and layoffs and the long-term consequences of rebuilding.
Many experts see this as another losing strategy. Instead of broadly swinging the ax, organizations must make sure they keep their best people assets. In some situations, when facing an economic downturn, it may even be time to hire up in some areas to shore up results.
In an earlier post we discussed the perception that standardizing operations and execution aren’t “sexy.” Well, now it’s pretty clear the time to pay attention to execution has arrived. When we say “streamline business processes” it’s not code word for cutting headcount. The truly “streamlined” organizations are the ones that have standardized operations and good systems ALL THE TIME. Not just when times turn tough.
No matter where you are right now, “systemizing” your organization with Operations Mapping is a winning strategy.