After some retrenchments, my remaining staff aren’t putting in the effort. Help!

Dear Aunty B,


Before Christmas I had to retrench 10% of my staff, which broke my heart as one of the best parts of running a business for me are creating jobs for people, not erasing them.


I have asked my remaining staff to pick up a few of the tasks of those who have left. But some are being real pains about it. Instead of just mucking in, I have to ask them each to do a specific task.


I am finding some stuff not done. I just found that several client requests have been left unattended since before Christmas. Fortunately the clients brought it to my attention and they haven’t left us.


When I asked the guys why they had not responded to the clients, they told me it was not their job and they had a lot on. But they still come in at nine and leave at five-ish.


I understand that some of their mates got retrenched. Do I need to be more patient with my staff and will things settle down? Or am I right to expect them to pick up the tasks?




Dear Worried,

Gee, maybe you let the wrong 10% go.

Look, of course they are upset. But you’re upset too. In a perfect world, no one would ever be retrenched and there would be no such thing as a recession. But in a company like yours that is struggling and fighting to save remaining jobs, it’s all hands on deck until things improve.

It sounds like your staff need more structure. What you need to do is to sit down with the remaining staff and re-do their job descriptions. The staff need to understand their jobs have changed, and you are not just going to load them up with ad-hoc tasks when you feel like it. Set appropriate targets and commissions in place to motivate them.

Then maybe in a few months have a few team building events. Make them fun. Your staff need to know the environment for the next few years is going to be tough, but that together you can ride it out.

Anyone who keeps complaining and remains really resistant needs to be given official warnings and maybe managed out. There will be plenty of people happy to take their job.

Good luck!

Your Aunty B.


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