Ben Franklin once said that “…it takes many good deeds to build a good reputation, and only one bad one to lose it’’. True words that are just as relevant now as when they were written nearly 250 years ago.
Any employer going through change – and at the current time there are clearly many – needs to spend time thinking about how it will manage that change. Strategic, financial and organisation-design criteria are all fairly straightforward; where are we going, do we have the financial resources to get there are we structured appropriately to make that happen. Most businesses manage these aspects well and understand the importance of getting it right. Equally, with the ability to ’manage change’ featuring with greater prominence on any managers ‘key skills’ listing, leaders are becoming increasingly adept at it. Why then do so many businesses continue to struggle with the process of change, or, as a result of it suffer significant drops in productivity and possibly take years to recover?
The principal reason, of course, is that that too little time is given to thinking about how the change will impact people. Whether that includes poorly thought out communication, inappropriate messaging around the impact the change will have on people or simply appearing ‘uncaring’ during difficult times, all will have an impact.
Remember David Brent? “…you’re all being made redundant, but there is some good news – I’m being promoted…”. Clearly that statement shows a dreadful lack of emotional awareness – who would want to work for that company? Thankfully the great majority of organisations don’t fit into that bracket – however we laugh at it because we see elements of truth in it….surely we have all known a similarly crass leader? And that point about handling redundancy notification is as important now as it’s ever been. It’s a PR disaster for an organisation to be splashed over social media for making people redundant by text, or en-masse during a video-conference, however whenever there is a recession we can be sure that we’ll hear about poorly handled notifications. It doesn’t have to be like this clearly and with some clear and practical thinking and a sensitive, supportive approach even these difficult activities can be mitigated to an extent.
During these difficult times, organisations will be under the microscope like never before. For every leader that is engendering good faith in their teams and building a strong and stable platform for future success, there is another that is, unwittingly, undermining the foundation of the business. Most people are aware that businesses face very difficult decisions now, however how those decisions are made, how they are implemented, communicated and supported will make or break an employer’s reputation. It’s an important aspect of change against the backdrop of Covid-19 so it’s worth making an effort to get it right.
Owen Morgan – Managing Director, INTOO UK & Ireland
Downloadable guide: Supporting your organisation through change and redundancy
To help organisations manage change and redundancy the right way we have created INTOO’s guide to ‘Supporting your organisation through change and redundancy’. The guide provides HR and managerial teams who are responsible for implementing change and managing the redundancy process with a best practice approach to change, so they can minimise business disruption and importantly protect the well-being of employees leaving the business and those who remain.
Download your copy below.