Barclays announced they plan to cut 12,000 workers and give out 10% more in bonuses for management as reported in the USAToday article, Barclays cuts 12,000 jobs, ups bonuses 10%.
If Barclays had laid off another 2,000 employees they would have achieved the decimation that ancient Romans used to seek compliance. You see, back in the days of the Roman empire when you had unrest, mutiny, disobedience, etc. in the Roman army you would kill every 10th man to restore order.
Barclays has committed an act that everyone knows deep down smells bad. There is something not right about this practice that does not sit well in the gut of most people. Besides the moral issues, the unrest is real. If you read the comments section of the article you will find that people are calling to boycott Barclays and today the stock is tanking – but who knows what tomorrow will bring?
I have written much about the problems associated with ranking, Better Thinking: The Case Against Targets, Rewards, Incentives, Performance Appraisals and Ranking Workers and you can search this blog for more.
I believe an important question to pose to anyone doing layoffs to keep the most talented and rid themselves of the under performers is, ” Why did you hire the under performers in the first place?” There is real cost associated with hiring poorly . . .especially 12,000 of them.
Another question I would have . . . would be, “Were they really good performers working in a bad organizational design?” Here is where I find the biggest problem, the design of the work and system of management that has been put in place.
It is hard to blame the CEO – although many will. The culture of many organizations is steeped in this Darwinian, “survival of the fittest” mentality. The cost to both society and the organization are immeasurable, however, most CEOs have learned that getting to the top means leaving carnage strewn behind them is the path there. It is they way of the world.
There is a better way. Safer than the known way.
This means building a system where all people have dignity and worth. Especially, those on the front line that can deliver what is important to customers without them there is no business. Building a better system to work in can lead to not having to make cuts in the first place.
However, dire times require action. It is hard to justify bonuses to the best while dumping 12,000 souls on society that at one time you found worthy to hire. The loss is too great. Just ask Enron who hired and kept the best.
Here is what I would suggest to organizations instead that would provide better leadership:
- Forgo the bonuses and keep the employees.
- If that is not enough, management should take a 10% cut.
- If that is not enough, than a 10% across the board cut of salaries for all employees.
The above are actions to take for executives that want to lead from the front and not behind. Otherwise, by default, society will view you as greedy and employees will view you as selfish.
Take a look at your organization as your customers see it – our 4-day workshop has been called “an awakening experience.” You will understand the customer view of your organization and take inventory of the assumptions, beliefs and perspectives that drive performance. Tripp Babbitt is a service design architect and organizational futurist. His company helps service organizations understand future trends, culture and customer. The 95 Method designs organizations to improve the comprehensive customer experience while improving culture and management effectiveness. Read his column at Quality Digest and his articles for CallCenterIQ. Reach him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TriBabbitt or LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/trippbabbitt.