Job Cuts, Morale, and Visual Aids


    Ford's salaried job cuts done for now

    “For now.” I'm sure that's encouraging to the survivors at Ford.

    I got an email from a GM friend about the salaried layoffs and the predictable impact on morale there.

    “[In a meeting] we were talking and one guy shouted out an expletive in the middle of discussion. He had just received an instant message from his manager (who had stopped by at the meeting, then left early) asking him to meet him at his desk at 10:30. Needless to say, his attention was lost for the rest of the meeting.

    Today, I heard (from someone who had lunch with him today) that the guy was let go yesterday. I'm having a hard time getting people's interest, returned phone calls, etc.”

    Yeah, people are going to be a bit distracted by their self-interest and survival when layoffs are going on. Every minute employees are distracted by their own survival is a minute they aren't focusing on customers, products, or their employer's bottom line.

    This is why you don't want to do layoffs in the middle of a lean effort. When given a choice of worrying about yourself or your company, we'll all worry about ourselves first. It's just basic human nature and very understandable.

    I'm lucky to be working with clients who have made a “no layoff” commitment, partly because they're growing and facing worker shortages in healthcare, but also because they “get it” about the need for employee security, well-being, and morale.

    Back to the Ford article, look at the ridiculous visual aid behind Fields. Their message is that “We're not losing market share as fast as we were last year.” Congratulations! The visual aid is driving me nuts because the two arrows are nowhere close to scale, the 1.0 Pt loss vs this year's 0.5 Pt loss. The arrow to the right really should be bigger, more like 1/2 the size of the other one. Or maybe it's just an optical illusion.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


    1. That is a pretty hilarious visual. I’d like to see those points turned into dollars. Who cares about points? How much money did we miss out on because our market share fell? That is what I want to know. I’m sure each point is at least tens of millions of dollars. I’m probably low in my estimate.


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