Downsizing Strategies
Don’t Upset Your Remaining Staff

Downsizing Strategies: "We, like other companies, have recently had to let some people go. How do I keep my remaining staff upbeat and motivated?"

Fear and Rumours

The first of your downsizing strategies is to manage the fear and rumours that will be created amongst the remaining staff.

Present the facts to your staff

  1. Before you begin your downsizing activities, work out a way to present the situation to all of the employees who work in that area.
  2. Present the facts to them so they can clearly see that, in order for the company to survive (and therefore retain as many jobs as possible), some cutbacks will be necessary.

If the employees do not understand why you are reducing staff numbers, they will make up their own versions of the story. That’s how rumours start – lack of data. The fear associated with these rumours will, of course, play havoc with overall production.

You might even find some of your best people start looking for alternative employment! If you lose your key people, that will impact productivity even more.

See Retaining Employees: How to Keep Your Top Performers for some techniques on keeping your best people interested in their association with you.

Motivation of Remaining Staff

Having made the necessary cutbacks, the next of your downsizing strategies is to address the motivation and productivity of the remaining employees.

Motivation is often misunderstood.

Some think that “motivational meetings” are the answer. You know; lots of hype. The only trouble is that, after your employees leave these meetings, the hype evaporates. This type of motivation is very short-lived and quite ineffective.

Other motivational ideas include:

  • Pay increases.
  • Bonuses
  • Competitions.

Unfortunately, money is soon forgotten; it becomes expected, as part of the norm, so is no longer motivational.

As for competitions, these only work for the few who feel they have a chance to win.

See Employee Motivation: The Magic Spark for more details on staff motivation.

Performance-Based Motivation

True motivation actually comes from within the employee. It goes hand-in-hand with production.

When someone sets out to achieve a particular result and actually achieves it, they feel a great sense of accomplishment. How motivated do you think they will feel about their job now?

Think of a salesperson who has just closed two big deals that exceeded her monthly sales budget. Imagine it. She has just put the phone down after closing the second sale. At that point, she is just itching to call another customer or prospect and see if she can make it three! She is really motivated.

Why is she motivated? She just achieved some excellent results. Her production is UP.

The same thing applies to all employees, although in some jobs production results are not as obvious as in the sales example. None-the-less, the same principle applies.

If you can help your people increase their production, you will increase their motivation and keep them upbeat.

Take Advantage of the Downsizing

Now, in a downsizing situation, increasing production per employee has to happen anyway, because there are less people doing the same amount of work (more or less).

Take advantage of this. As a manager, you can’t do all the work of your employees, but you can help them to get things done more effectively.

  1. Make sure each one knows exactly what they are supposed to produce; that they clearly understand what the results of their job are supposed to be.
  2. Find out what production barriers they are running into and do your best to remove them. Make production “the game” and your staff motivation will soar.

If you cover these two points in your downsizing strategies, you have a much better chance of coming out of the downturn in good shape.


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