Magazine article Management Today

Masterclass: Retrenchment

Magazine article Management Today

Masterclass: Retrenchment

Article excerpt

What is it? Cutbacks, lay-offs, redundancies, downsizings: all ways of talking about the unpleasant but often necessary business of reducing the size of your organisation.

Retrenchment has an authoritative ring to it, but that doesn't make it any nicer if you are on the receiving end. It's a negative experience - at least, in the short term - like amputating a limb to prevent the spread of gangrene. The problem with lopped-off limbs is that they rarely grow back. Managers may have to retrench now, but it's vital that they don't overdo it.

Where did it come from? The Bible warned us to expect seven lean years after seven fat ones. This is nature's (or God's) way of telling us to slim down a bit. That other Biblical practice of the tithe - sharing out some of your winnings - also carries that sense of cutting back for greater long-term health. So retrenchment has a worthy heritage Food-rationing never did people any harm either. But after years of post-war economic growth, retrenchment in industry became a far more vicious matter. …

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