Category Archives: Leadership

Force Reduction – Your Targeting a Position, Not a Person?

I recently attended, or should I say, I had the pleasure of attending a training session called the Nuts and Bolts of State Supervision.  I know . . .

Overall, it was helpful and the instructors were knowledgeable and good.  I got a lot of the program and I am glad I attended.

At one point, the discussion focused on layoffs and the somewhat convoluted state layoff system.   But what struck me was a comment made during the session.  The instructor said, “it is important to remember that we are targeting a position, not a person.”  Okay technically true.  A force reduction is about eliminating positions, not particular employees, at least in theory.  However, it would be intellectually dishonest to ignore the fact that someone is going to lose his or her job.  And that will have a significant impact on that person and his or her life.

The fact someone is going to be impacted negatively by a force reduction is a fact that managers need to come to terms with.  We need to realize that our action has an impact.  In short, your action will affect another person’s life and yours.

The impact of actions is why the military has begun to talk to soldier about combat before they deploying to Iraq and Afghanistan.  The fact is that if you are deploying to those areas there is a strong likelihood you may have to kill another person.  You can be macho and act cool, but reality often negates our pretenses.  The military does this training in an attempt to reduce PTSD and the impact of taking another life.

Well, in a similar manner managers need to think about the impact  of a layoff.  They need to come to terms with the consequence of their actions.  It is being honest with them selves and mostly likely with the employee they are showing the door.  In the end, if you understand the impact and your role, you can minimize the damage to your self.  In addition, it might help you help the unfortunate individual who is losing his or her job because of a force reduction.  By enlarge, a person who has probably done nothing wrong.  Thus making the impact doubly horrible.

So it is true, in a force reduction you are targeting a position, but remember someone is in that position and that person is losing his or her job.  If you are going to make someone “redundant”, then you better come to terms with the fact that that person is going to suffer a great lose and a lot of stress.  It will be the best thing for you and the person receiving the unfortunate and horrible news.