Areama Cantros had been dreading this day for some time. As senior manager of Izzy’s Bed Emporium, she had been aware of the impending downsizing after Mattress Mart bought the small-town family-owned company a year ago. Areama Cantros knew that the time would come when she would have to not only let people go but would have to make sure she could keep a skeleton staff. Areama did not agree with the corporate decision to downsize the firm to sales alone and take away most manufacturing, leaving only Izzy’s LiftOmatic to be constructed in the family plant. This was done primarily to reduce the amount of high-paying jobs from the smaller company. Areama also disagreed with the way corporate was to deliver the news; they wanted to use a consultant, a stranger to the staff and to her. “They are taking away our wisest” she noted, “and they are taking away those folks’ dignity for good measure.”
Not that Areama could argue with the reasons behind the downsizing. She was after all working in an industry that was rapidly shrinking, leaving only a few major manufacturers making many of the brands offered. Imported bedding has also eaten into the market. Corporate has tried to stay ahead of the events and has bought up several smaller manufacturers, like Izzy’s, retaining the bestselling products and releasing all the rest.
Areama knows that tension is high at the company after the layoffs came down from corporate. The uncertainty is stressing people. This time around the loss of jobs is much greater and more permanent. As a survivor of a poorly handled layoff, Areama knows that it will be an immediate concern to restore morale. The last thing she needs is for the remaining staff to giving their two weeks’ notice. In fact, they are going to have to be more committed than ever because more is going to be asked of them than when they were hired. Further, some people will have to consolidate job tasks and learn new ones. There may need to be some restructuring and merging of assignments and duties.
The afternoon briefing is going to be complicated. That is where Areama hopes to begin charting the new course toward the “new normal,” so that everyone understands what they are in for. The rumor mill has been turning fast and the scenarios floating around are worse than what the eventual status quo will bring. So, it is important to start now to create some information that is true to go along with the misinformation.
Areama, doesn’t want to make decisions about the future too fast as nothing undermines a staff’s confidence more than a collection of faulty ideas that get revised a few months into their existence.
There are a lot of things to consider when contemplating the new operations at Izzy’s. The company had historically been grouped by functions: administration, marketing, sales, accounting, production, design, quality assurance, packaging/shipping. It seems to Areama that some of these will have to be combined. But how to decide who to group? Some groupings seem logical, but it may be that the staff working in these areas might find different groupings more appealing. Some staffers will be taking on more, whereas others will be taking on a lot more. Izzy’s will need both groups to perform at their best.
Further, there is the matter of who is willing to shoulder a lot more responsibility rather than a little more. Areama knows from experience that this can be a dicey issue. Some staffers excel at a narrow set of tasks but struggle once those duties are expanded. Others seem to thrive on taking the burden and they do it well at least in the short term. But how to tell one group from another? I have my hunches, thought Areama, but it may be best to start with the assessments and inventories corporate had everyone complete when they took over. It may be this personnel file information will not help but it is sure to give some insights.
The more Areama thinks about it the more dividing the work inequitably may be a recipe for disaster. She has a long memory of complaints about the relative workloads across areas for years. In this regard corporate might help for a change. It turns out that they budget more for compensation-related expenditures in the wake of downsizing. They too have learned from their experience in downsizing.
Survivors sometimes need a bit of a bump to stay committed. They have also learned that “downsizes” occasionally need to be hired back, this time at the going rate for the job market Corporate can justify such expenses because the downsizing still results in cost savings, even with the extra for the survivors figured in. Areama is pretty sure that she can leverage the extra funds in a creative way to get the new pay structure to match up with the new job structure.
It might be helpful to involve the staff in the decision-making process as to the future of the company. That would give them buy-in and ensure all the bases were covered as the new structure gets put in place. On the other hand, keeping manufacturers on the same page with salespeople is often difficult. What if she asks for suggestions and they go off in completely different directions?
Although the new day-to-day work of the company is foremost on Areama’s mind she also cannot help but think about the future. Will the staffers feel the same way not just about their jobs but about their vocations? How much of their identity is wrapped up in being part of a family-owned “Made in America” company” As corporate standardizing touches their job tasks, benefits, and imposes corporate work policies will they feel the same about their future? After the pain of losing so many colleagues, Areama thinks it likely that the meaning would fall flat, and she would be disingenuous. Or maybe there is something else Areama can do to bring a bigger purpose to the work done by Izzy’s survivors. Maybe something for the town or the nearby university.
In this week’s discussion on decision making address the following points and make at least three recommendations you would make for Areama in her decision-making plan to revise the company and the way to present it to the staff.
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