Wednesday 12 November 2014

I loved Lucy. The trouble was her bosses didn't!

Every time I visited a particular office of my client I was always impressed with Lucy (name changed to protect the innocent). Lucy consistently brought her best to her work. And everyone I asked agreed, including customers. Except her bosses it turns out.

Imagine my shock when I learned Lucy had been made redundant. Head Office is into 'headcount' as they call it, and Lucy was an 'unfortunate victim' they told me.

I had a flashback at this point to 25 years ago when my bosses in another country told me I had to reduce my 235.5 headcount. Now I have never met half a human being. You?

All this is another example of lack of common sense, a failure to be human in the workplace, and making decisions based on silly numbers.

Nobody has ever slashed and burned their way to prosperity as far as I know.

To make matters worse a HR person who had never met Lucy was dispatched by Head Office to give her the bad news. HR was seen as the enemy before this, so imagine how they're perceived now.

Other members of Lucy's team would have reduced their working hours in order to keep Lucy on the team. Nobody consulted anyone in this office. They made a decision based on some number a person far removed from reality worked out.

Morale and employee engagement at the office I refer to above are lower than a lizard. Results have never been as bad, all because somebody in ignorance made a decision based on lines in a profit and loss statement.

Letting go people for whatever reason is hard. You may have to do so sometime. I hope never in the way described above.

Focus on co-creating a culture where people can bring their best to their work. Put people first. Treat every person as the one-of-a-kind that each of us is. More than likely your results will be what you want and you'll never have to even consider making a decision about a person based on an arbitrary number.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS Lucy has a new role, in an organisation just down the road from where she was. She's being appreciated there for who she is and is getting paid more for the great value she delivers than she was before.

At Lucy's new workplace they're growing their business quite rapidly and are looking for more people. It would be interesting to listen in on the lunch time conversations Lucy is having with her workmates from her previous employer.

PSS There's lots of interesting conversations going on at the Head Office of my client too. The good news is that at this point I reckon they have learned a hard lesson and won't make the dumb decision they made about Lucy and people like her ever again.

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