I recently read that a company is re-engineering (again) and laying off close to 10% of their workforce. The announcement is rather convoluted and it boils down to this: they don’t think the skills of the people that they have on staff meet today’s needs so they’re going to let them go and hire new people with different skills.
To this idea, I have one piece of advice: corporate CEOs, take a cue from Jon Bon Jovi. He respects every member of his band and when the chips are down for any single member, Jon gets them the help they need. He cares about them as people first, and as musicians and colleagues second.
To be perfectly honest, good business is not rocket science. Sure, there are some who are better at it than others, for whom business comes more naturally. However, all of it can be taught to anyone. And yes, that includes hot topics like product development, social media marketing, and coding. All that’s required is a qualified teacher and a willing student. To learn something new requires heart, passion, solid work ethics, and the desire to be helpful and useful. These are not the possessions of a chosen few; everyone can have those and with those traits, anything can be learned, rocket science included.
This retraining of existing staff is also good business. It costs companies millions of dollars to lay off staff and hire new people. Why not do as much as you can with the people you have? Give them a chance to adapt to a changing world by learning new skills. Companies need to invest their resources in training, not in re-engineering. This makes good sense for everyone – employees, companies, and shareholders.
I’m so sick of businesses treating people like line items on a spreadsheet rather than human beings who’ve given so much of their time to make these companies successful. And I’m especially sick of hearing CEOs use lines like “it’s not personal; it’s business.” Anything that involves people by its very nature is personal. It’s about time we start acting like people in business rather than drones. That’s what Jon would do and look how successful he is.