Restructure. Rightsizing. Downsizing. And any other ‘ing you might use when you are considering making people redundant. It happens to most companies at some point. Even the best ones you can think of - will at some point realise that they can’t sustain themselves at the size and structure they are and look to make changes.
The average person spends around 2 years in tech companies in the UK (can be higher in other industries), so being 'let go' is not quite the kick in the teeth it once was to many in this area. However regardless of what is the 'norm' in an industry, handing in your notice to trade your skills elsewhere is not the same as being asked to leave and so it will still come as a shock to most in that situation. To help you through such a sticky situation, here’s our quick guide for things to be mindful of when proposing any cuts.
- Don't procrastinate too much: over both the decision to make the cuts and the timing of taking any action once your decisions have been made. Some of the companies I most respect are in the successful position they enjoy now because they had courage to make changes in advance of when they needed them rather than waiting and praying for things to improve.
- Do try and think of alternatives: yes, the consultation period is designed to provide the time to do this, but by and large people see this is just part of the process to follow. And in reality, although an individual can suggest alternatives during that period, it is your role to do this before it even gets to this stage.
- Know your legals: although evidence suggests that treating people with dignity and respect throughout such a process is the best way of avoiding any comeback, get familiar with what you legally need to provide for all those you are considering losing.
- Be honest: people can smell fake redundancies a mile off. And while there are many businesses which use a mass change to sweep up a few individuals who they haven’t dealt with at a performance level, if the business needs to change, then be frank about it.
- Be respectful: for every time an individual hears ‘it’s not you we want to make redundant, it’s the role’ they just hear ‘bullsh**. And following on from this...
- Avoid making irrelevant comments: In the past I've heard ones such as "it's as hard for me to make this decision as it is for you". It's not. You are the one in the driving seat, so you will not be thanked for this.
- Think of the others in your team: By all means, manage a smooth and respectful exit for those leaving, however your real efforts should be reserved to focus those who will see you through the next few months and years.
- Work on bonding the team back together again: Having a big party post-layoffs will likely be ill-advised, however bolstering your team by spending some time with them re-focussing them on future goals is heartily encouraged. From All-hands, team meetings, 1-2-1's - you can never over-communicate during this period.
Yes, there is paperwork and a (sometimes complex) legal situation to manage, however having managed many of these situations myself over the years, the best way you are going to deal with this is by treating people with respect, paying above the bare minimum if you can afford it and moving the process through as quickly as possible.
Want some more tips? Check out our YouTube video here.
If you’re considering such a change and worried about how to even start going about it, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0203 627 7048.
Photo Credit: the scream by Mark Tighe