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How I Did It: Lessons from the Front Lines of Business by Daniel McGinn, Harvard Business Review

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Honeywell’s CEO on How He Avoided Layoffs

by David Cote

David Cote is the chairman and CEO of Honeywell.

The Idea

When the Great Recession hit, many companies “restructured” and laid off thousands of workers. By asking employees to take unpaid leaves instead, Honeywell positioned itself for the recovery.

When I arrived at Honeywell, in 2002, the company had gone through a challenging period. In 1999 it merged with AlliedSignal and shortly afterward closed on the acquisition of a company called Pittway. The three cultures were never integrated, Honeywell had repeatedly missed earnings, and the company had announced cumulative write-offs of $8 billion. Having been in the chemical industry for more than 100 years, it had environmental liabilities ...

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