Redundancies are detrimentally impacting staff morale in the UK !

Many years ago, when I had my first experience as a manager making people redundant and then being made redundant myself after the company was sold and shut down, the main thing that maintained morale, trust, performance and stress was communication. That needed to be open, honest, self aware and appropriately empathetic.

Over-promising and under-delivering was catastrophic for these. In the end what people wanted was to know the details of what was going to happen to them, when it would happen, how much they would get and how they would be supported to get another job (if that was their objective).

Those colleagues who were staying to the end needed to see their friends treated well as that was clear evidence of their likely fate – and was directly linked to their retention and performance.

I set up and managed the outplacement programme (working with external consultants), delivered training and coached people through to their next role. Probably one of the most important jobs I’ve ever done.

This article from the HR Review, noting that ‘Redundancies detrimentally impact morale’ ( ), masterfully states the obvious. There is useful content but it is undermined by the obvious headline. My reaction is ‘No S%$t, Sherlock’.

A Dysfunctional Team

We were asked to help a broken leadership team to mend itself.  We completed the ‘usual’ research, speaking to the team, their reports and some of their client groups to understand the situation.  The causes of the problem rapidly became apparent :

  • individual objectives and priorities that weren’t aligned;
  • different ways of working; and
  • a lack of trust in each other.

We worked with the HR Business Partner and the team’s Director to develop a one day programme that would lead to some simple commitments that the team could hold themselves to.

The day focused on identifying and agreeing  :

  • the shared values they had – and understanding their differences
  • the dysfunctions in the team – we used the assessment in Patrick Lencioni’s book to help the discussion
  • what their clients needed from them and what they wanted to be known for – their individual and team brand.

The team were all experienced leaders, but the pressure they were under had got to them.  The day allowed open, constructive conversation and agreement to a way forward.

The simple commitments to each other – attending and being prepared for meetings, sharing information in a timely way outside the formal sessions – these all happened.  The feedback from their clients and team was that they were getting consistent messages from each leader and their team and were far easier to work with. The trust had started to come back.


A Story About Influencing

This story is mostly true. The fine beast that you can see below is the latest addition to the Tanner household. George is a rescued Fox Hound and joins Daisy and Ruby to build a trio of mutts around the place.
I had always insisted that two dogs was enough. When one passes away we get another as company for the remaining one and to occupy our sadness. Daisy and Ruby are our third pairing.

Sam, my wife, was driving past the dog rescue centre when she saw George being walked (or dragged along) as he picked at the rubbish he could see on the path. She found out some details about him online, and then went in to meet him. He had been a stray, was about 18 months old and could only go to a family that was used to dogs.

Once she had met George she introduced him to my sons – again online. Then she took Patrick to see him, and take him for a walk – or more of a drag at that stage. Patrick liked him too, and so next they took Daisy and Ruby to meet him to check that they would be OK too. They are a very laid back pair, so it was a given that they would get along.
At this stage I was shown an online picture of a random mutt at the rescue centre. I agreed he looked ‘nice’, and confirmed my policy that two was enough. Very clearly and firmly asserting myself to ensure that there was no uncertainty in my message (we’ve been here before).

A few days later we passed the rescue centre on our way to walk Daisy and Ruby, when Sam suggested we pop in to have a look. I’m not totally stupid, so I repeated my key messages. Anyhow, we met George. He was reintroduced to Daisy and Ruby, and then took him back to the centre’s staff, who asked me when we were completing the paperwork and taking him home !

As I mentioned I’m not stupid, though probably malleable by those I love. So, my protests were undone by some very sharp work with key stakeholders and influencers. Sam wanted him. Harry and Patrick thought he was a great character and needed a home like ours. Even Daisy and Ruby had met him and liked him. And he is full of character, energy and fun.

There is some learning here. One part might be how easily swayed I am by a call to the heart and wanting to please (or not upset) my family. The other more useful part is the skillful, focused influencing plan that Sam created to remove every objection I had and to create a vision of George at home that was irresistable. That’s the bit I’ve got to get better at.