Workplace Trends

When Managing Layoffs We’re All Connected

By Greg Simpson on March 6, 2013

Layoffs are difficult and painful – not only for those employees impacted directly, but also for the employees who remain, those who have to deliver the news, your customers, vendors and business partners, as well as the community. We’re all connected so how an organization manages a downsizing will be felt by many.

Here are a few ground rules:

  • Managers delivering the news must be prepared. It’s much more than being able to handle an uncomfortable conversation. A manager needs to be prepared and trained to handle emotionally-charged conversations with compassion, empathy and support, while staying focused.
  • Be honest, direct and visible. Avoid euphemisms. Build trust by speaking plainly and with integrity about what’s happening and why. Senior leaders must be visible and actively communicating. Remember that in the absence of clear, direct, frequent messages, people will make up their own stories to fill in the gaps.
  • Have a plan for moving forward. Provide career assistance to your impacted employees so that they are back on their feet quickly. With those remaining, acknowledge the loss and uncertainty they also experience. Prepare them for how their role may change by setting expectations and providing training. Have a conversation about the organization’s goals and the part they play.
  • Preserve the employee value proposition. If you’ve done a poor job of managing a reduction in force, mishandled communications, and/or displayed a lack of respect, you risk the reputation of the company. Negative perceptions are difficult to contain and can be amplified through social media. Monitor your company profile, Facebook page, Twitter channel and other social media platforms to follow online chatter. Be prepared to quickly and directly address any negative sentiments that arise.

Handled with dignity, respect and caring, organizations can create good will, protect their company’s reputation and ensure impacted employees receive the support they need to move forward feeling prepared and confident to meet the challenges ahead.

2 Responses to “When Managing Layoffs We’re All Connected”

  1. Melinda Horton

    This is a great article. In business, as in life, tough decisions sometimes need to be made. When this is so, I believe it is not so much about the WHAT is being done as it is about HOW it is being done. Here’s to treating people with “dignity, respect and caring” all the time … and to put it another way … why not simply treat people how you like to be treated! Regards, Melinda Horton, Elite Evolve, Brisbane, Australia.

  2. Bob S

    Guessing you haven’t worked for a Fortune 500 Co during a recession.


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