Leadership and Downsizing

The IEP industry is experiencing a major disruption. We were visited the other day by Professor Tom Clayton, the outgoing IEP Director at the University of Kentucky. Our day-long sharing session highlighted the fact that language program administrators are facing unprecedented change, increasingly called upon to transition organizations and people alike. Our program is about 6 months ahead of UK, but…

Transitioning organizations is not a one-and-done.

Even though the physical act of downsizing is complete, the survivors (actual term) face a new set of challenges. If anything, these past few months have underscored just how fragile workplace organizations are when social systems get thrown off-balance. So, looking for answers…

Enter my old friend – academic research.

Let me preface this by saying that:

1). I didn’t know leadership through downsizing was an actual field of study. It makes sense given that the corporate world experiences bankruptcies, buyouts, and mergers regularly. And while remiss that I couldn’t lean on this body of literature 12 months ago, I’m grateful to have stumbled upon it recently.

2). Organizations are notorious for not preparing front line managers to handle downsizing – from strategies to function as toxin handlers, to developing support timelines, to crafting messages and helping with communication. I feel that this is compounded in the field of education, where our ‘business’ is largely insulated from market forces (at least until recently).

One thing I have learned in my reading is that managers tend to focus on the individual, not the organization as a whole when going through transition. This has certainly been the case for our program. One-on-one meetings have been recurrent, especially during the peaks in our administrative work cycle when stress levels are high.  That said, as managers we can provide the space to co-create a dialogue about the transition, acknowledging the fact that there are unknowns, that we are all stretched thin, and that processes are evolving.

To that end, the above presentation was a very brief informational session with our team of survivors in an effort to create that space for dialogue.

I invite you to contact me if you would like to discuss.