I have been writing this blog for over a year now. Several thousand people have read it, and several hundred have commented about it. It began out of a desire to demonstrate that there is no such thing as just a business decision. All managerial decisions impact people. Therefore, it is business and personal. I understand that change is inevitable, and I get it that managers need to make decisions that will keep the organization solvent, but how these decisions are implemented is critical.
Two individuals apply for a job, and a lesser-qualified individual gets the job, how the decision is communicated is important. Cryptic words will not assuage the sense of injustice; only personal messages dealing with the strategic importance of the decision will limit damage. Often there is a reason for choosing one candidate over another, and it may not have anything to do with qualifications. It is usually something that is related to changing need, or strategic direction. It is a business decision that impacts a person. After the announcement then the individual who did not get the job has a decision to make. Stay and support, or move on to another organization where they can expand their skills. It just may be time to move on and further develop skills.
The reality of a changing environment and impact to people is currently being displayed at the Oregonian. The Portland newspaper has announced that it is cutting home delivery to four days per week. Corporate leaders also announced they will be laying off many of its employees. Gordon Oliver discussed this in his article “Industry Changes Hit Close to Home.” Gordon worked for the Oregonian for many years, and knew many of the people who are getting their pinks slips, which make this event even more tragic. This event demonstrates to me the horrible assumption that something like this is just a business decision.
When the Oregonian management announced the changes it was sudden, “kept secret even from top newsroom managers.” I am sure the corporate managers wanted to limit the impact on morale and productivity. This only demonstrates how stupid management can be at times. I am positive that people saw this coming, and any attempt to hide this event only created more cynicism within the workforce. Now, 35 people who work at the paper have been given pink slips, including some of its best journalists. Do you managers think this is going to improve the human side of your organization?
This so-called business decision was a result of changing times. How we get our news has shifted to online sources, subsequently subscriptions to the printed paper have diminished. Oliver demonstrates in his article how this is personal. “I am told of newsroom horrors: Some reporters bursting into tears upon learning their careers are over, others doing their best to remain stoic.”
Change is inevitable, and difficult decisions have and will occur. But management has the fiduciary responsibility to implement these difficult decisions in the most humane manner possible. When does a manager stop being human? When does a manager become so economic in their thinking that they forget about relationships? I remember an upper level manager telling me one time that we can’t focus on names when discussing layoffs. I can only assume that it became too personal for him. But how can it not be personal. Our decisions impact people. There is no such thing as a business decision, so why pretend there is.
And that is my thought for the day!