Images of newly-redundant bankers leaving their offices with their desks emptied into boxes were common around the time of the financial crash in 2008. As the banks that had employed them needed to make quick and brutal cuts to their workforce many people found themselves redundant.
It wasn’t just the banks of course; it happened across swathes of the job market. And now, due to completely different forces, mass redundancies are happening at organisations again. Large and small. Across many sectors.
What happened outside the media’s glare back in 2008, however, was that these banks instantly invested in management training. All of them. As did many other organisations at the time. As are many other organisations again now.
As redundancies are made, so management training almost always follows and for sound financial reason. Here’s why:
1, Dealing with Shock and Controlling a Drop in Morale
Redundancies aren’t nice for those being made redundant. But what about those who are left? The instant shock can be followed by many other feelings; sadness, instability, guilt, anger, loss of motivation, depression.
All of which impact morale instantly. When morale is on your side as an employer, your managers and your teams provide you with great work. When morale is against you and your managers, your productivity dives, your engagement dies, your new ideas dry up and your ability to keep talent reduces.
Halting a slide in morale requires great leadership. And it requires it from managers who suddenly have a lot of other things to deal with. Are your managers capable of (re)building morale?
2, Reducing Fear Amongst Those Who are Still There
Redundancies have a habit of not being one-off events. So often people who are left at the employer fear that they’ll be next. When the leadership invests in management training – or indeed any training – it shows a commitment. So the training has two big financial impacts; the enhancement of the skills needed now and the rewards those bring, and the calming effect that permeates because of the investment in training.
3, Different Working Practices and Change Management
Things are going to be different now. Roles are going to change. Processes are going to have to improve if there are fewer people and some functions, potentially some operations, will have to be stopped altogether to concentrate on what’s important or most profitable. Key decisions at every level.
The requirement on management and leadership skill here is enormous. So is the cost of getting it wrong.
Change management skills are essential as are other management and leadership fundamentals such as delegation, time management, coaching and mentoring, engagement, team strengths analyses, strategic thinking, and cultural change management. All are going to be needed. These are skills that not all managers have – to the financial cost of the employer in such circumstances.
4, Cultural Opportunities
‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’, as the saying has it. There are always opportunities, especially in the way you can reshape.
‘We now have to……., if we are to…….’, has more resonance now than ever before. Changing how you want things to be now comes with the handy spectre of a grave other-world scenario looming behind you. Well trained managers use it.
Managers and leaders who understand the huge value of this will take advantage of it. Managers who don’t will concentrate purely on the crisis and will spend all their time bailing water. The impact of good leadership skill here is extraordinary.
5, Opportunities for Younger Talent to Step Up
It’s time to invest in those who’re ready for the next step up and here’s why:
- Retaining this organisational knowledge has huge short-term benefit
- They’re needed right now
- It provides strong evidence that you’re serious about the development of your people and your organisation
- They’re possibly keener and more open to learn as well as less likely to be set in their ways
- They’re probably cheaper in the short to medium term than the older guard who have gone
- They’re likely to become invested in your organisation
6, So Strategy Can Actually Happen
If the strategy is set at the highest levels of organisational leadership within an employer, then it is the managers’ duty to ensure that it is translated into actions.
Untrained managers are not themselves good leaders. They hide in busy-ness and find reason to blame inefficiencies on external factors. Asking these managers to interpret a strategic direction, a set of core values, or define what good looks like for their team is futile.
Training these managers is not only essential to the continuation of outputs, but it is the only way to effect the change required to ensure that strategy actually happens.
‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, as the legend has it. If your managers understand neither at any level you’re guaranteed to be overpaying, underperforming and going nowhere as an organisation.
7, Stabilising Early for Future Growth
At some point the storm will be over. That much is guaranteed. What it looks like afterwards is not.
For businesses, growth is nearly always at the heart of the plans and for all of the reasons above this cannot happen unless the strategy, the culture and the productivity are in place and align.
If you have well-trained and competent managers they’ll help you to get to the point where you can concentrate on growth again. Skilled managers weather storms and bring people with them.
For the senior leadership team this also means an ability to get back to spending time on financial growth rather than disaster management sooner rather than later.