Resources for Managers

Jan 5, 2010

Do groups or teams at your workplace have a shared leadership that encourages everyone to take responsibility? Are team members fully engaged and enthusiastic? Does the group share a purpose so compelling that it prompts members to make the group’s work their top priority?

If not, your groups or teams may still be good, but they aren’t yet extraordinary, according to Extraordinary Groups (Jossey-Bass, 2009) by Geoffrey Bellman and Kathleen Ryan.

In this new volume for managers, executives or anyone who participates in a group, the writers examine what makes some teams and groups special and especially productive, while others lack commitment and don’t get results. The book uses detailed, real-world case studies drawn from groups of two to 20 people and interviews with more than 600 managers, executives and consultants.

Those left at the office after job cuts often suffer from “layoff survivor sickness,” writes David M. Noer in Healing the Wounds (Jossey-Bass, 2009), and the condition can prove toxic for both the employees and the employer. The fear, distrust, anxiety and depression in those left behind can affect productivity and the bottom line.

Noer details how layoffs affect the survivors and explains how managers can establish “healthy and productive relationships” with employees during and after downsizings.

The core of Noer’s work is a four-level process for managing both layoffs themselves and the impact they have on workers and productivity:

  • Do “basic first aid” and control the immediate damage of a layoff. Manage layoff processes through communication strategies, tell the truth to maintain credibility and examine whether the organization’s leaders are in denial about the impact a layoff will have.
  • Help layoff survivors grieve for their losses. Getting these employees to express their feelings isn’t just a feel-good exercise; it’s a step toward returning them to productivity, and Noer advises on how to structure and facilitate this process. Case studies from real situations show how survivors’ grief affected whole organizations.
  • Empower employees. Break the dependence they feel toward the organization, and end the “implicit career covenant” many employers and employees have shared.
  • Build a new employment relationship that embraces different rewards and ways of working. Consider flexible and portable benefits, contract work, recognitions that are not tied to tenure, self-directed work teams, and other moves to increase employee autonomy and responsibility.

This book can be purchased through the SHRMStore online. Members receive a discount off the list price. Visit and search for item number 48.56520.

Compiled by Leigh Rivenbark, a freelance writer and editor in Vienna, Va.


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