Yesterday, LinkedIn announced layoffs of nearly 1000 jobs. Apart from being desperately sad for those people and for their teammates left to carry the pieces, this is another sign of the far-reaching consequences of an economy under stress.
With unemployment numbers steadily rising across the world, many employers face difficult decisions about who to keep and who to let go. In many cases, this is not a simple process of cutting the jobs incorporating skills and services your company has less demand for.
There are people in the mix who have been with you for a long time; people who have grown and demonstrated talent across multiple domains; people who have diverse backgrounds and experiences upon which you may now draw; people whose capacity for creativity and collaboration connects groups and rallies the energy to pivot. The decision is not cut and dry. It is difficult and painstaking.
The people to keep are the ones who demonstrate your company values and share a passion for your purpose.
This week I had the great pleasure of hosting a YPO Queensland event at The Calile Hotel in Brisbane, where Jim Collins was broadcast for a live virtual event hosted only by The Growth Faculty. Besides experiencing the pure joy of being in a room with people in that beautiful hotel, it was absolutely relevant and timely to hear Jim share his wisdom on how leaders can meet these times of uncertainty.
In his research and during the live event, Jim Collins consistently positions Leadership and Culture, before Strategy. Good to Great companies are defined as companies who delivered cumulative returns at least three times greater than the market over a 15-year period. Collins reminded us that Good to Great companies began their transformations “by first getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats – and then they figured out where to drive it.” Collins went on to say “the old adage that people are your most important asset is wrong. People are not your most important asset, the right people are”.
Collins and his research team discovered that whether someone is the right person is less about their specific skills and capabilities, and more about their character traits and innate capabilities. In other words – the right people are a good culture fit; they share your values and believe in the company’s mission.
If you’re facing the difficult decision of who to keep and who to let go…Collins suggests asking yourself this question…..if you were at the bottom of Everest; who would you place your absolute trust and faith in to join you on that journey to the top? Of course – physical fitness would be a given. But saying you had a group from whom to select who all passed the physical tests – what would you base your decisions on then?
You’d choose those most resilient, those who put the needs of others ahead of their own, those who were strategic, organised and planned, those who were patient, kind and resourceful, those who were able to manage themselves, and who talk about your mission with the same level of passion and drive as you do. You’d choose people who demonstrate, through their behaviour, your values for persistence, endurance, courage, achievement, empathy and above all leadership.
In his book Traction, Gino Wickman uses a simple tool to assess whether you have the right people on the bus using a tool he calls People Analyser. List your people’s names in a column down the left, and your core values in the row across the top. Then rate each person according to his or her demonstration of those values. Give them one of three ratings:
+ She or he exhibits that core value most of the time
+/- She or he exhibits that core value sometimes
– She or he doesn’t exhibit that core value most of the time
This is just one tool you can use to support the most difficult decision you may need to make as an employer. Don’t let go of the people who may steer your bus in a new direction; or even build you an entirely new bus. The people you keep are critical to your capacity to pivot, adapt, and evolve your business through these times. By keeping those who share the same core beliefs and values, you maintain a solid base from which to climb.