TIPS FROM A DOWNSIZING EXPERT

Approach

*Approach downsizing as a long-term strategy and a way of life rather than as a single program to be completed and abandoned.

Preparation

*Prepare for downsizing before it is mandated or crucial for survival. Don't wait until a ''ready-fire-aim'' approach is required.

Involvement

*Involve employees in identifying what needs to change through downsizing and in implementing those changes. Don't drive downsizing from the top down.

*Hold everyone accountable for downsizing goals rather than treating it as only top management's responsibility.

Leadership

*Associate downsizing with a clearly articulated vision for the future, not merely as an escape from the past.

Communication

*Ensure that everyone is fully informed of the purposes of downsizing, the strategies, costs, and time frame, rather than revealing only ''need to know'' information and keeping sensitive information at the top.

Support

*Provide equal attention to and support for those who stay in the organization and those who leave the organization rather than focusing all benefits on casualties.

Cutting Costs

*Institute a variety of cost-cutting activities such as restricting overtime, providing leave without pay, and eliminating redundancies rather than limiting downsizing to headcount reductions.

*Focus on attacking sources of organizational fat that often go unnoticed and unmeasured, such as excess information, meetings, and new programs.

Kim Cameron is a business professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

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