Thursday, 4 October 2007

The well of human spirit

“It's time we tapped the well of human spirit that runs so deep in our land.”
Ronald Reagan

I had planned to have one final post from Out of the Storm – maybe it can wait. Tonight I feel duty bound to write about something else.

I’m feeling very drained as I write this. Emotions have been running high at work today. We’re introducing a new job evaluation scheme, so everyone’s job has been re-assessed. Generally it seems to have worked out OK, but there are a few jobs that have come out very badly. Quite a few of the ‘losers’ are in my service area.

So I’ve spent a large part of the day meeting with the staff concerned, explaining what happens next and how we plan to support them through the changes. The changes are not insignificant (up to 20% reduction in salary – after a 3-year period). It’s not that the jobs are overpaid just now – it’s simply the case that they don’t fit well with the new system.

I expected a very difficult time. In itself this didn’t worry me – I’ve been a manager for long enough to know that tough days are part of the deal. I’ve sacked people for a variety of reasons, I’ve been instrumental in closing down business units, I’ve told people that they’re not getting the promotion that they expected … but somehow today’s issue seemed to be less fair. These people perform well and have never caused any trouble.

But … I was completely amazed by the reaction that I received – without exception. Of course the individuals were emotional and angry and confused, but they behaved with decency, integrity and professionalism that I hadn’t thought possible. They have taken the bad news, processed it, asked the right questions and let us know in an honest but measured manner what they think.

At the end of a tiring day I feel very proud of my staff – and I have told them so. They have shown exceptional character and I will re-double my efforts to ensure that the impact of the new scheme is minimised for them. People often surprise me, but not usually in such a positive way.


That Hideous Man said...

Presumably it has something to do with the fact that they know you and respect your integrity so haven't personalised their anger and directed it at you.

-20% over three years...?!? Not many families could take a hit like that. You'll be lucky to hold onto staff while eroding their standard of living at that rate - and if this post is anything to go by they'll be greatly missed.

His Girl Friday said...

Their reaction is commendable but I think it also could be a reflection of the leadership that you present.

I couldn't imagine such a reduction in pay, esp with cost of living increases and trying to raise children. Best of luck!

Endlessly restless said...

I wasn't fishing for compliments with this post - I was genuinely quite emotional about the response of staff.

Just so you know, we will be looking at some job re-design, some re-skilling and a bit of productivity 'tweaking'. Hopefully I can come up with a package that will avoid any reductions, or at least get close to that position. To be honest, after the emotions of yesterday,today I feel the burden of responsibility. But I guess that's what I'm paid for - or as the union rep would say "That's why you boys are paid the big bucks!".