REDUNDANCY - COACHING TO A NEW START
As UK plc continues to grapple with the economic downturn, multinationals and SMEs alike are experiencing the impact of redundancy measures, not only on employees directly affected, but on those remaining with the business. Surprisingly, if handled effectively, redundancy can be a positive experience for outgoing staff and will reflect well on those staying, on morale and the company's reputation as an employer, delivering both HR and PR benefits. Over recent years, larger employers have used the services of outplacement consultants to help senior people find another job at the same level as quickly as possible. What traditional outplacement consultancy tends not to address though are the wider options that may be open to those facing redundancy.
It's an experience that can give people the opportunity to develop their working lives in previously unimagined ways: drawing them towards entrepreneurship and the potential for much greater financial reward than they could ever have aspired to as an employee, or achieving the work/life balance they may have been seeking for some time.
Opening up new horizons
Coaching is about identifying and removing the beliefs and behaviours that prevent people from reaching their potential and stimulating the energisers that allow people to achieve. As such, both as a strategic approach in its own right or within an outplacement programme, coaching can be highly effective in opening up new horizons. More often than not, redundancy is a done-deal. Jobs have to go and it's then a question of making the process as positive experience an experience as possible for all concerned.
Coaching can be highly appropriate during a pre -redundancy phase, typically when selected employees are given a range o f options to consider - leave the company, stay but in a different role, relocate to another office etc. And of course, this is where coaching can be effective in a situation that outplacement is not equipped to handle.
The whiff of redundancy has, inevitably, a negative effect across the whole workforce. The automatic reaction is to put your head down, keep a low profile, try not to get noticed. The consequence is that performance levels drop, at a time when there are clearly significant difficulties facing the business.
Typically this has an impact on behaviours such as risk-taking, creativity and trying new ideas - the very behaviours that a company needs its employees to exhibit in order to retain competitive edge. Coaching can
help key employees to retain focus during this difficult period. A less considered, but equally problematic aspect of redundancy, is the situation in which employees who have positively decided they want to take redundancy and are hoping for it, subsequently are not given that option. Such individuals are unlikely to perform well - they will simply bide their time, gathering the resources they need to move on.
A coach can help identify the challenges that are attracting the employee to a career elsewhere and suggest how the employer can replicate these in a role that will retain a valued member of staff in the business.
Eliminating status issues
A coach can also help that that person to address and eliminate the status issues around taking what might be perceived as a ‘sideways move' or a ‘backward step', focusing on what a role can offer, rather than its job title.
There is no doubt that a more enlightened approach to supporting employees through redundancy will yield positive benefits, not only for the individual, in terms of personal development, but for the organisation's internal and external relationships and reputation.
By Michael Duckett BA (Hons)
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