Let’s Fire You All: Company Overhauls

workplace overhaulSenior management, or those who have seen it all- please feel free to chime in on this one. You may have read in a previous statement I made on this blog, that I am currently working with a company doing a 40% overhaul. This is one of the smaller overhaul’s I have worked with. The largest was 80%. As experienced managers know, this kind of drastic change in a company requires your full attention and you end up working close to-but not quite- around the clock. These are the primary reasons for the current overhaul at a glance:

  1. Embezzlement (yes again)
  2. Highly toxic environment
  3. No moral – poor culture
  4. Poor work performance by majority of employees
  5. Company is facing loss of continued funding
  6. New CEO and CFO

For those of you who may not be familiar, an overhaul does not necessarily refer to large degrees of change management- but rather the restoration and repair of a system, project, or department. This requires intense planning, action plans, group scenario probabilities, fiscal year projections, budget considerations and reports, avoiding legal barriers at all costs, and setting the stage for future legal repercussions. Depending on the issues that endorsed this overhaul – a complete deconstruction of departments, including but not limited to internal auditing and investigations are completed. I understand when an overhaul is announced in a company meeting, that staff hears the word “fire” and think that management has shared a party bag of uppers and is now going crazy firing everyone. I get it- because as front line employees, we’ve all been there. Truth: management has been planning this and has had it in consideration for months, if not a year. It is a delicate task, and requires a tact for restoring integrity, which not everyone – even a CEO, can do. This is why you hear of specialists being hired for this purpose alone. A company may do staff overhauls for integrity and budget reasons- these being some of the most main concerns.

What is ultimately unfortunate is that a mass lay off means many people facing lack of resources for rent and groceries. What does the family do? I am a little bit of a stickler when it comes to marking people’s dismissal papers “lay off” because I want to encourage them to apply for EI, and I want to refer them in the community to any resources that can help them with employment, networking, and maintaining their basic needs. Let’s face it, severance pay is ideal, but it’s not always feasible for the company, so it can be limiting. The newest trend for company overhauls is the IT/Social Media and PR departments. Recently Blackberry, Yahoo, and several Unions undertook this venture. They didn’t complete a staff overhaul, no doubt some people were let go, however the primary focus for them was systems. Has it worked? Well, considering it all took place over the past month, we can’t be too sure. However, an overhaul does present a fresh slate, a new chance, and with the primary goal to restore integrity I would say they are off to a good start. Overhaul’s affect everyone in every corner and nook of the company. It is a chain reaction that overtakes the daily routine, relationships, business ops, and budget. It is necessary for some, but more concerning about who is doing it- and prayer to be whispered that it isn’t for projection reasons.

The Social Bully of Retention Plans

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A common retention plan for employers is to have staff lunch, dinners, and nights out. Sounds good right? Actually it’s one of the most harmful retention plans. Not because there’s food involved. As an individual who has been having a torrid affair with delicious food for quite some time, I can honestly say that food is not the culprit. The culprit are the front line extroverts planning the event.

Staff lunch’s and dinners are fabulous ideas for stop in, grab a bite, say hi, if you have time to stick around-great, if not- also great, but the there’s “no pressure” and “no shame”. When a vote was taken on favorite holiday, Christmas and Halloween ranked suspiciously even. When asked why, the voters said that those who chose Christmas did so because they simply wanted their family to be involved; those who chose Halloween said they wanted their family, without obligation of religious, social, or institutional “perfection”. Wouldn’t you know it, similar reasons are used with staff dinners and nights out. The extroverts wanted to get to know everyone and have employee bonding time, while the introverts didn’t want to have to conform to extroverted culture and social pressure when getting to know everyone.

Typically, when Bob or Sally never attend a staff lunch, and dodge all staff parties, they are seen as shy, cold, antisocial, dysfunctional, hidden agenda, weird, and other label types. Go Bob and Sally! You rock! Admittedly I amĀ that employee that dodges anything after work hours in a “you must conform environment”, and I’ll tell you exactly why. Those are my boundaries. And just as I respect you for putting on the event, (heck, I’ll even book, plan, and facilitate the first half) respect my decision to politely say “no thank you”. Believe me, it’s nothing personal.

Introverts are 70% of upper management and executive teams. However, the stats flip for anything other than upper management or executive staff, then it’s primarily extroverts. The detailed stats for this are even more interesting. If you read Psychologies UK, or subscribe to employee stats through Government HR websites, then you can begin to link the common themes between extroverted and introverted characters. The reason why upper management, etc, is composed primarily of introverts is because introverts lead different lifestyles that enable them to observe more, read more, take more educational upgrades and specified training (not necessarily attaining a MA or PhD- those stats are surprisingly parallel- however introverts are more likely to specialize), more inclined to critically think over hot topics, thus have a better employment track record, and be more preferred for promotion etc… The truth is, introverts run the world whether anyone likes it or not. Bill Gates, Bill Clinton, Celine Dion, Steve Jobs, Sheryl Sandberg- they are all introverts. This does not mean the extroverted culture is left out- au contraire. The extroverted culture does make up an odd 30%. There is also a false pretense to introverts that they are shy, quiet, bookworms. I am sure that there are people reading this that are thinking, “Bill Clinton? An introvert!? You’ve got to be kidding!” Being shy is a trait that an extrovert can have also. Shy implies you possess some sort of fear or anxiety for crowds. Who’s to say that Obama doesn’t have a fear for crowds and gets nervous, although he may adore the limelight? Being introverted simply means your temperament prefers observation to explosive stimulus, thus you typically recharge when you are not social. And sometimes, people just don’t like other people. I would hardly call that shy.

So when front line extroverts are planning dinners out in swanky restaurants with alcohol, party atmosphere, and BFF attitude, it makes us laugh and cringe. A night out is always nice. Good food is even better. A beer?- don’t mind if I do. But expectation to be Facebook friends and chat it up like we’re some big family…? You’ve got to be kidding. Because believe me if anything, this one thing: the boardroom ain’t no bedroom, and BFF’s don’t run no company; it’s snakes and doves in this game. I have seen in practice that more employees attend outings and dinners when it is a laid back atmosphere, no conformity, no shame, no blame, and honestly-in this setting, you can’t tell the introverts from the extroverts apart if your career depended on it! But when work doesn’t feel like “work”, they are more likely to attend, at least once a year :) Let’s make what could be the world’s best plan, an appeal to everyone please. I promise this year, I’ll drop in and grab a plate to go, at least at one outing!