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Friday, 20 November 2009

Friday Guest Blog: Motivating a team rocked by redundancy

by Nina Dar, Change Management Consultant

In times of recession it can be difficult to keep staff motivated, especially if your organisation is making redundancies.

For some sectors work is drying up, although most places haven’t seen a drop in the intensity of the workplace. In the boom, people worked hard on the understanding that they were making hay while the sun shone. Now, redundancies might mean that in some organisations one person is doing the work of two. Staff accept that because it’s what required for the business to survive.

It’s all too easy to generalise about the impact this might have had on personal happiness. Some people actually enjoy the Blitz atmosphere and the fact that the established rule book gets thrown out of the window.

There’s no doubt the recession is forcing companies to think differently. The playing field has changed and the entrepreneurs amongst us are considering new markets, new processes, new ways of working and new terms. Everything is up for grabs again. Positive or negative, it’s an adrenalin rush and people are thinking about basic business practice again.

One inspiring example is the Formula One team Brawn GP. In March 2009, Ross Brawn announced a last minute buy-out of Honda F1 under the new name of Brawn GP. Almost half the workforce was made redundant, Jenson Button took a significant pay cut and they didn’t have an engine until Mercedes stepped in. I have listened to CEO Nick Fry talk about this experience and it is clear that things got pretty desperate; they were a hair away from going down the tubes.

The success they are now enjoying following Button’s championship win is shared by all the people who put themselves out there getting a car ready in the shortest possible time ready for the first race. It is testament to characteristics like belief, courage and commitment.

Of course a number of elements have to come together, held together by sheer hard graft. A friend of mine works alongside the Brawn GP team and he confirms that there are half the people doing twice the work and it’s better because of people’s attitude.

The important thing about redundancy is that the ‘survivors’ are reassured about their own futures and their value to the organisation. Companies need to give full explanations about the changes where possible and explain what the next steps are for the business and their career development. A demoralised workforce, anxious about their prospects, will not give your business the strength it needs to survive. However, if managed properly, the team you are left with will be motivated and will have the desire and skills needed to provide the boost your company needs.

Nina can be contacted on 07837 536 979 or by email at:

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