I recently wrote an article about how agencies can do more with less and still keep employees happy. In that blog post, I listed 8 strategies that leaders found effective when they were faced with budget cuts back in the 90’s. What we don’t know is whether or not the employees that were impacted by those strategies were given the opportunity to be a part of the decisions that were mandatory for those agencies to survive at the time. Many of those agencies are once again faced with significant budget cuts; however, things are a bit different this time around.
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) sent a memo from Director John Berry to agencies’ chief human capital officers that provided direction on buyouts, early retirement packages, and reassignments. The memo states, “The Federal Government is experiencing restructuring and downsizing in an increasing number of agencies. As a result, some Federal employees may ultimately find themselves in a position of having to transition to a new job.” Change is never easy for an organization. Involving employees in certain decisions that are influenced by change lessens the overall impact it could have on an individual and the organization. That is exactly what several agencies are doing in order to implement the instruction to plan a budget that is 5 percent below their spending levels in 2011. Government employees are being offered buyouts and early outs as a way to avoid potential layoffs and furloughs. In several cases, employees are given the option to be reassigned to another agency in order to continue their career with the government.
When change occurs, people initially focus on what they have to give up. Their first reaction to a suggested change often tends to be a personal sense of loss. This includes, among other things, the loss of control, time, order, resources, coworkers, competency, and prestige. To help people move forward, leaders need to assist them in dealing with this sense of loss. Helping employees get in touch with what they think they will be losing from the change will help them accept some of the benefits.
Check out this short video about how change needs to be a course of actions you do with people, not to them.