Nice economy we're having, eh? How's your company weathering this economic storm?
Picture the familiar scenario of a slowly sinking ship with its occupants desperately throwing valuables overboard to lighten the load. Were you one of the valuables? Has your livelihood been cast off?
You would hope that when a company is struggling, it would have exhausted all other options prior to commencing layoffs.
You would hope.
Picture the finance group. Yeah, those accountants and bookkeepers deep in the ledgers have been fully aware for months, quarters (or longer) that there was a leak. Profits were diminishing; cash depleting; debits mounting; the balance sheet out of kilter; the company would need to adjust operations or it would begin to sink.
Months pass. New coordinates for the ship were set. And reset. But the hull is not holding up and things are getting a tad bit damp. This is an all too familiar depiction of life in today's corporate America for the last 18 months. And should it continue into next year it will get more and more difficult to right the ship.
The accountant is handed the chopping block. It's time to assign a value to each employee to determine who is expendable...who walks the plank...and when.
Who can replace whom at a lower cost? Who can absorb so-and-so's duties? It's messy, but the first wave of layoffs passes.
State of morale takes one on the chin, but is largely ignored. The remaining employees are just trying to survive.
Months pass. If you are lucky.
It's Monday morning. Yesterday's rock star arrives with his coffee and bagel, gets settled and turns on his computer. But...his login password isn't working...
He nervously tries again...
Holding his breath, he tries a final time...
...And he is cast ingloriously overboard as he joins the flotsam and jetsam ranks of our sinking economy.
This chief petty officers opinion? Too often we don't value the people who are closest to the situation. Listen to your finance team. Include them in corporate strategy discussion and tactical execution. Make them forward thinkers not just those who memorialize the last month or last quarter. In Semaphore's turnaround and workout business the finance team takes a prominent place on the bridge. The captain, at times, needs to be led. A good crew with full knowledge will make the journey surer and all the shipmates safer and more secure.
Linda Hachey is Director of Finance for Sema4 Inc., dba Semaphore (http://www.sema4usa.com/), a leading global professional services provider of Private Equity funds-under-management and technology diligence services. Semaphore currently holds fiduciary obligations as General Partner for six Private Equity and Venture Capital funds and advises General and Limited Partners, as well as corporations, around the world. Semaphore's corporate offices are in Boston with principal offices in New York and London. You can write to Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org.