SMELLIE ON SME's: How to think about all these job cuts

Feb 25 (BusinessDesk) - Think back a month to before the latest corporate earnings season. There was a palpable sense of optimism that 2013 was shaping up to be a better year than any of the last four.

In the last three weeks or so, though, much of that gloss has gone, replaced instead by what seems an unstoppable wave of job cuts at big employers including Solid Energy, Telecom, Contact Energy and Fletcher Building.

It's almost as if a lot of big companies have been holding onto surplus staff for a while now but have finally bowed to shareholder pressure to get on with restructurings intended to make their businesses turn better profits.

As a business owner, you know these are hard decisions to make. But you also know they need to be made once you've identified the problem.

Investors have seen these job cuts the same way. Far from seeing them as an indication of a further slump in economic activity, share traders pushed stock values higher last week as they reacted to evidence of chief executives making decisions that will stand their companies for the future.

Of course, the human cost will be real. Nor does the loss of swathes of middle managers bode well for the retail sector or the housing market, not that retail looked that flash anyway and the housing market could do to calm down a bit.

But these job losses may offer small and medium sized employers with some opportunities to grab talent that's normally locked up in bigger, more secure places of employment.

As a senior investor at Mint Asset Management, Shane Solly, told BusinessDesk last week about this latest round of job cuts: "This isn't the man in the street. It's their bosses."

These are skilled workers, who will be eminently re-employable.

What are all these experienced middle managers going to do as they emerge from large corporate settings, where it's likely they'll have received professional development t and have learnt commercial disciplines that are all too often lacking in the small do-it-yourself world of SMEs?

Some will go to Australia and further afield. That's a given. Others will find new roles in other big corporates.

But others will take their redundancy cheque and see their job loss as a chance to do something more entrepreneurial and interesting with management talents that are in short supply throughout New Zealand.

If you know you've got growth potential you can't meet because of your own shortcomings or simply because you don't have time to do everything, my suggestion would be to write a detailed job description for the kind of experienced middle manager you could use in your business.

You might just find there are some ready takers coming on the market in the next few months.



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