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Barclays Banking on Its People... Unlikely

08/05/2014 14:49 BST | Updated 08/07/2014 10:59 BST

Who is the last person in the world you'd want cooking your dinner in a restaurant? If you think in the same terms as I do, it'll be the chef that's just been sacked. If you're about to choose a bank, who would be the last person that you'd want managing your account... Someone who is sat there worrying they are one of the 14,000 that is on the 'to be cut' list?

There are two fundamentals that it seems Barclays has completely ignored today with its revised headcount reduction announcement. Firstly, in sharing the Big Number you de-motivate and worry your entire staff, you see attrition rates go through the roof and you tell the world just how deep and unpleasant the cuts will be. Secondly, you won't hit it. Every change programme I've worked on or studied demonstrates that the target number is not your final headcount reduction number. There are two years of changes to get through. Two years of company developments that will impact on what happens.

Cue also the sound of sword sharpening across Europe, as unions, employee councils and lawyers prepare to battle Barclays in the fight to maintain jobs. Employment law across the continent is hugely complex, and needs to be treated sensitively. The bank's size 11 trampling across all of this will only fan the flames - and add to the cost - of a lengthy consultation process.

Vodafone got it right a few years ago when it reduced its operations - it talked openly about the need to reduce the company footprint, and confirmed that staff cuts were inevitable. But that's as far as they went - it avoided at all costs sharing an actual number. The changes were targeted and carefully managed - treating the culture of the company as the most important aspect in the process. In comparison, BT followed the Barclays route and felt the pain of embattled negotiations and the loss of key talent.

All of this aside, who is going to walk into a Barclays branch today and feel good about their choice (no confirmation on branch closures, but 400 are 'likely' to go)? How many Barclays employees are going to struggle to put in the effort, or wear the 'smile' for the customer?

We know Barclays has needed to pull a staggering turn-around rabbit out of the hat, but will this attempt at reputation repair ultimately be more costly than beneficial?