Jay Greene's article on cost-repositioning without layoffs ("Retooling without layoffs," Feb. 26, p. 76) suggests, appropriately, that creativity and management proactivity can sometimes help avoid unnecessary layoffs. I'm not sure that my comments quoted in the article fully reflect the context in which they were offered.
We know that what constitutes "necessary" is very specific to an organization's culture, finances, mission, and controllable and uncontrollable changes. The reality is that sometimes involuntary reductions just can't be avoided even after management's best interventions.
I believe relatively few organizations depend on layoffs as a first resort. When that happens, though, warning signs of impending crisis may exist and aren't assertively managed. It is management's failure in those instances that provide organizational heartburn.
Whenever a layoff occurs, a positive organizational culture is diminished, no matter what the circumstance. There will be enough unavoidable layoffs without our failing to manage proactively by anticipating and positively intervening to be sure that any involuntary reduction is truly necessary.
O. EDWIN FRENCH
President, French & French