Interview with Lothar Hoss

Mr. Hoss, you have over 20 years experience in accompanying
personnel adjustments in companies. What are the reasons for
calling you in?

One reason could be the changing demands of the market. Companies have to strategically realign themselves to satisfy these demands. The personnel concept is nearly always an important factor. An imminent liquidity crisis or a take-over by a different company can also be reasons for getting us on board. Often our clients are in the middle of a process for which they have a rough idea but no exact plan as to how they should best deal with their personnel. That very quickly creates anxiety and even conflict in the company.

… The employees fear for their jobs …

For example. In essence our work always boils down to three elements: The strategy of the personnel adjustment, the retention of high performers and the perfect implementation. Its important to us to very quickly identify different socially acceptable solutions and alternative employment.  We never want to burn the bridges, the company needs the willingness of all employees at this time.

What do you mean by  “ the strategy of personnel adjustment” ?

To put it simply: What’s the best way for the company to proceed?  In establishing this we consider not only the direct costs but also those which arise through implementing the different possibilities. Often the solution with the least expensive social plan is the one chosen but have the costs for the resulting conflicts been taken into account? Delays in implementation, loss of performance even going as far as situations resembling industrial action? Already in the preparation stage we can assess the risk and estimate the cost, providing more options for negotiation. That helps in the decision making process. We deliver solutions which offer alternatives to just job reduction. Due to our extensive experience over the years we are specialised in recognising and evaluating measures from several sides.

Why does it make sense to call in a specialist instead of leaving the job to the HR director or CRO?

When there is a certain level of urgency, complexity and risk involved – i.e. exceptional circumstances – then it’s worth the investment in our services. For example, a company who needs to restructure to remain competitive in the market does not want to lose its reputation. Neither does the foreign company looking to take part in a German bidding procedure. They want to avoid risk and therefore come to us as specialist consultants. Its not only a question of finding the optimum solution but also gaining a trustworthy partner in the negotiating team. We often take on the role of the bridge builder. Not least the companies who find themselves in a liquidity crisis needing emergency services. The survival rate of unspecialised teams is very low, HR Generalists just can’t take the risk. The CRO has to find solutions with investors and banks not to mention keeping clients and suppliers happy. This costs a lot of time and effort which is also required in the personnel area. With our experience we offer him support and security in the management of the personnel questions.

Is it at all possible to reach necessary financial aims whilst maintaining a viable company, also for the employees?

It’s not only possible but absolutely essential. To merely cut costs is only a short term survival measure – sometimes necessary in order to take a deep breath. The necessary strategies and structural measures must then follow. This applies to the optimisation of the processes including their competitiveness. That’s exactly what the “Company pacts for work”  aim at:  All stakeholders make a contribution for a certain time period, during which the company can be sustainably stabilised. A classical case of a win-win situation.

Many restructuring measures are prone to conflicts and tend to damage companies for a long time…..

These situations often occur when companies ignore the early signs, react too late and due to their inexperience with crisis management take unnecessarily hard countermeasures. Works councils and employees are surprised by sudden job reduction programmes. Companies often argue for instance that banks are creating time pressure, causing swift decisions and actions instead of spending the time collecting facts. The result is more than likely actions, designed by the unions and works council to attract the media, necessary overtime is cancelled and so the company starts on a vicious circle deeper into the crisis. In these phases its important to stay calm and together with us  break through the vicious circle with quickly worked out effective solutions. The company can only be successful when everyone concerned is included in the search for the best solution. The quicker it goes the quicker one finds a concept which everyone can accept. It’s our aim, after implementing the necessary measures, to leave a fertile basis for future developments.

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