On my first day at a major auto manufacturer, I was handed a ticket to fly to Western Pennsylvania with the task to shut down the office of a software company we had bought and move the operations to Cleveland, Ohio. It was not easy to walk into that office for the first time as I was there to put most of the people there out of a job. I approached it with the belief that when treated with dignity and respect, people will respond with their best.
I met regularly with the team and individuals; I asked what they were worried about the most and what I could do to help them in their next career steps. Unexpectedly, their biggest concern was that we would take too long in moving the operations and leave them in a “morgue” waiting to die. The impacted teams and I approached the plan together. We laid out what we needed and then worked on meeting the joint objectives. Their needs were expedited closure, strong transitional support and a plan that ensured that their customers would be taken care of as the business was moved to the new location. The only difference between their needs list and mine, was that I needed to come in on budget. Because we were able to move the transition up, I was able to negotiate to have extra money committed to the closure invested in improved exit packages and support services. Because the employees had the input and support, they were strongly committed to training the new staff and completing the necessary transition documentation.
When we finally closed the offices and transitioned the business to Cleveland, I actually received several thank you notes for “treating them like human beings”.
Now for those who think a standard of treating all with dignity and respect is somewhat soft; this project was brought in early, under budget, and with an increase in customer satisfaction. (Mic Drop)