How to Ease the Pain of a Layoff

A steady economy is still a long way off and, truth be told, this may just be the new normal.

Good economy or not, at some point in your career, you’ll probably have to downsize your team by going through a layoff process. Priorities change, external factors drive companies in a different direction, old skill sets are no longer needed — there could be any number of reasons.

Letting people go is hard. One of the hardest things you will do as a manager. Even if it’s not your favorite team member.

Here are some tips that may make it a less arduous task for you and the other person.

  • Communicate as much information as you can about the situation before it happens. Don’t lie. People know when something bad is happening in a company. If you don’t tell them something, they’ll make it up.
  • Be compassionate when presenting the news. Explain it is a circumstance of the organization, not the person. Always remember you are dealing with people. And people have emotions.
  • Do it face-to-face if at all possible. This is not a task to be accomplished by email. If you can’t be face-to-face, use the phone.
  • Let the person leave with their dignity in tact. Allow them time to collect their belongings and say good bye to friends.

Have you had to let any team members go? What tips do you have to share for others who have to follow in those footsteps?

Denise O'Berry

Denise O’Berry — aka the Team Doc — has been working with teams and team leadership in the public, non profit and private sectors for over twenty years. She gets a lot of joy from working with teams and their leadership to help them improve and work through team issues. Not only does her advice come from the heart, it comes from years of experience working as a team member, team leader, manager and owner of her own company. She has truly walked in your shoes and offers help so you can be a better team leader. You can find more advice from Denise at her website askteamdoc and don't forget to follow her on Twitter @askteamdoc.

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