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Chapter 14. Bye-Bye Buddy > Morale Problems - Pg. 178

Bye-Bye Buddy Here are some suggestions to help pull the team together: 178 · Acknowledge the situation. Some leaders feel it's best to erase the memory of the laid-off work- ers. They never talk about them, and act as if they'd never existed. This is playing ostrich--hiding one's head in the sand. Openly talk about the people who were downsized. Let the members know that you miss them. Encourage the remaining members to express their grief over the loss. The team's challenge now is to regroup and develop ways to keep the momentum going. Heads Up! If any team member exhibits unusual stress as a result of the downsizing, take the time to counsel him or her. If that doesn't help, refer that member to the employee assistance program. · Conduct a meeting to plan the reorganization. Review the way the work was distributed before the change. Post on the wall a list of the activities each of the members has been doing before the downsizing. Go over all tasks to see if any can be eliminated or combined with other tasks. Rank the remaining items. · Redistribute the jobs. Let members choose which of the tasks formerly done by a laid-off member they'll take over. Adjudicate any disagreements at the start to prevent later conflicts. In reor- ganizing the work of the team, it's better to reevaluate each job and rewrite the job description than to just tack on additional duties to the current job description. · Congratulate the team on the way it has acted under the circumstances. Assure members that you appreciate it and will work with them to ensure that the new plan will work smoothly. Morale Problems After a downsizing surviving members may feel a temporary sense of relief--they still have their jobs--but deep down there is the concern about the future. If the company did it once, they fear it will probably do it again. Not only do they worry about insecurity, they know that when teams are reduced in size, it inevitably means that fewer people have to do more work. They may be concerned about being overworked. Unrest in the Ranks There's no way a team leader can guarantee that the recent downsizing was the last one. Particularly if there have been previous layoffs--even if they had not affected the team, it's natural to worry about one's job security. Some members will polish up their resumés and start a job search immediately. As a result, the team will lose good people when it needs them most. Less aggressive members may sulk and mope, and not accomplish much work. On the other hand, there are some members who may take this as an opportunity to prove they are indispensable. They'll work hard and smart so that, if there is a next time, they'll be less likely to be downsized.