This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

March 18, 2009

HR Strategic Initiatives for Today and Tomorrow

Recently the Human Capital Management Division of the IBM Institute for Business Value released a white paper with its recommendations for leaders coping with the global economic crisis. Implementing this advice, IBM believes that "organizations can use this downturn . . . to position themselves for future opportunities."

First, they advise organizations should make informed resourcing decisions. Base those informed decisions on capabilities and gaps, including the costs of rebuilding resources, costs of lost productivity associated eliminating training, and even the opportunity to acquire entire divisions or companies.

Second, and this suggestion echoes our book "Lean & Meaningful", focus on "core" versus "non-core" activities. Look for opportunities to outsource and in-source, concentrating on what the corporation does particularly well. These moves may, in fact, improve agility by creating a smaller organization that is better able to respond to changing market conditions.

Facing imminent layoffs, organizations are most vulnerable to lose their best performers---those in the highest demand in the labor marketplace. These are people the enterprise can not afford to lose at this critical time. A clearly defined performance management process, coupled with "stay interviews" will help tackle this issue.

Downsizing often affects informal social networks that are critical to the efficient operation of the organization. IBM's white paper also cautions employers to be careful with voluntary attrition programs, because they "tend to target those with the most experience and institutional memory"---special people who can provide better support through this period.

These challenging times necessitate what we called in our book "How to Become an Employer of Choice" "enlightened leadership". Enlightened leaders are visible, accessible, engaging, and values-driven.

These difficult times demand a higher level of strategic response. HR professionals can be instrumental in helping their leaders navigate these rapids---if they are equipped with the knowledge and have the respect of their organizations. Given the length of time this economic situation is expected to endure, wise employers will consider a variety of scenarios, looking at different options they could implement, depending on how the economy evolves in the next few months.

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