Term Paper: Has Become a Significant Idea

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[. . .] These qualities include the trust of their employees and their empowerment as well (Cole, 1995).

During the time that they are downsizing, many companies are also becoming advocates of high involvement work systems and creating strategies for total quality management (Cole, 1995). While these are being implemented, the process of downsizing is continuing all throughout the company (Cole, 1995). Unfortunately, to make total quality management and high involvement work systems work properly the empowerment and trust of employees is needed (Cole, 1995). This is something that is usually lost when downsizing occurs and therefore is not there when total quality management strategies are implemented (Cole, 1995). In order to have work relationships that are effective, employees and managers must trust one another (Cole, 1995). This is particularly true of areas where conflict or uncertainty is created, but is also true of simple and normal work relationships (Cole, 1995).

Trust is often defined as the willingness of an individual to be vulnerable to another individual (Cole, 1995). This is based on the belief that the other party is not only reliable and concerned about the interest of that individual, but is open and competent as well (Cole, 1995). Employees that are empowered feel that they have a meaning and a confidence in what they are doing, as well as a personal control over much of the environment around them (Cole, 1995). Empowerment, therefore, is defined as an orientation to an individual's work that is seen as proactive (Cole, 1995). Empowerment is a very critical issue because it is a prerequisite to the activity and risk-taking on the part of an employee (Cole, 1995). Organizations that downsize depend on trust and empowerment because many of the hierarchies that were previously seen are removed and there are fewer managers around to monitor the behavior of various employees (Cole, 1995). In the 1990s, this was especially true, because there were many more reductions in white-collar workers than there were in blue-collar workers (Cole, 1995).

With the hierarchies weakening many individuals were finding themselves more often faced with situations where various sanctions and moral controls were nonexistent (Cole, 1995). This meant that trust was becoming essential to action (Cole, 1995). There are some scholars that hold out the argument that empowerment and trust have replaced transactional contracts and hierarchy as the main control mechanisms in many organizations (Cole, 1995). These are some of the reasons that empowerment and trust within employees show a marked decline during downsizing (Cole, 1995). Much of this has to do with the fact that surviving employees may not trust the openness of top management any longer because they do not feel that management has any credibility or that communication is being dealt with in the proper way (Cole, 1995). In other words, information is being withheld from them and this makes them suspicious (Cole, 1995). These survivors may also believe that management does not care about many of the needs of the employees in the company because they see that many of these employees have been sacrificed for the personal gain of the managers (Cole, 1995).

The competency of top management may also be something that these employees question because most employees are aware of the fact that morale has a great deal to do with how well a company runs (Cole, 1995). If the company has gone back on their promises or has been very inconsistent in the intentions that they have stated and the actions that they have taken afterwards, surviving employees may also lack morale because they may feel that the company that they work for is extremely unreliable (Cole, 1995). The sense of empowerment that many of the surviving employees have also suffers greatly when downsizing takes place (Cole, 1995). They find themselves becoming increasingly more suspicious of the management that they have and they may also start to see themselves as being independent contractors rather than actual employees (Cole, 1995). By doing this they often view the organization in instrumental terms and will not see that they are integrated into the culture of the workplace (Cole, 1995).

When empowerment languishes, the sense of meaning that survivors have is often lost due to lack of communication between themselves and other workers, and between themselves and management (Davidow & Malone, 1992). It is possible that the competency of these surviving workers is also often threatened because they quite likely will take on some of the jobs of the co-workers that were laid off (Davidow & Malone, 1992). Many times, these jobs require a different set of skills that the surviving worker may or may not have (Davidow & Malone, 1992). This may also undermine the sense that they have of personal control and they may feel that the job responsibilities are always changing or that they are not clear (Davidow & Malone, 1992). Frequent layoffs will also leave these employees wondering if maybe they are next (Davidow & Malone, 1992). Even if management assures them that this is not the case, if they have lost trust in management there is no reason for them to believe that this is accurate (Davidow & Malone, 1992). The willingness that these individuals have to take any kind of risk often declines quite steadily and because of this they see themselves as much more resistant to change (Davidow & Malone, 1992). This resistance to change does not allow them to grow and does not allow the company to prosper (Davidow & Malone, 1992).

There are, however, ways that some of this can be avoided to a certain extent and that downsizing can be turned into a process that is basically effective (Davidow & Malone, 1992). Maintaining trust and empowerment is extremely important during downsizing and there are certain ways that this can be done (Davidow & Malone, 1992). The first thing to do is to create a timeline for the downsizing (Davidow & Malone, 1992). Any downsizing process that wishes to be successful must have planning (Davidow & Malone, 1992). This planning must begin long before there is a formal announcement made that individuals will be downsized (Davidow & Malone, 1992). Unfortunately, there are many organizations that look only at the damage control after the announcement has been made, in that they are simply reacting to the negativity that employees display in their reactions (Davidow & Malone, 1992). If these companies would become more proactive and look at ways to minimize not only the upset of the surviving individuals but the preservation of their trust and empowerment as well, the downsizing would be much easier for all involved (Davidow & Malone, 1992).

There are four distinct stages that are the most looked at when companies downsize (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). These must be followed closely in order to keep the empowerment and trust of the remaining employees as high as possible (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). First, the decision will be made to downsize (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). This decision must be made very carefully, and it should never be an easy or painless one (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). Downsizing because the competition has done it is not a good reason and many managers jump into downsizing before they stop and look at all of the issues that need to deal with (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). Downsizing should be used only as a last resort (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). Employees who look at downsizing often see it as a failure to control costs and hiring by top management (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). They also see it as a failure to value employees and see them as anything more than machinery or cost (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). When senior managers address not only the needs of the surviving employees but the needs of the workers that are being laid off as well they help to counteract much of the mistrust that they would be facing otherwise (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993).

If they exhaust all of the possible alternatives that they have before they decide to downsized, and if they can show this to employees when an announcement is made, this will indicate concern on the part of top management and this will also help to counteract much of the mistrust (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). Downsizing is not often necessary for only short-term declines (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). Many companies implement overtime restrictions, salary freezes, hiring freezes, pay cuts, shortened workweeks, unpaid vacations, or elimination of bonuses in order to avoid downsizing during a difficult economic time (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). Other companies come up with very creative alternatives (Kuzlowski, Chao, Smith, & Hedlund, 1993). For example, a company called Rhino Foods lent out several of its key… [END OF PREVIEW]

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