As we step into the year 2023, corporate leaders are faced with an ongoing challenge of a rapidly changing business environment. For a few of my clients, I am seeing them face a very pressing and unfortunate issue - navigating the challenge of layoffs. This has created a sense of uncertainty and fear among employees and highlighted the importance for them to navigate - purposefully, transparently, and with care and compassion.
Recently, I observed one of my executive clients communicate a very difficult message to his team that 50 jobs would be eliminated. Each one of the employees in the room was directly impacted. He delivered the news clearly yet compassionately as he explained the circumstances, acknowledged the impact of the decision, and offered space & uncomfortable silence for the individuals sitting in front of him to process the news best.
He put himself in the shoes of his employees - many tenured and committed for years to the organization - and took a heart-centered approach to share the difficult news. In navigating the challenge of layoffs, he met his employees in a place of empathy, went off script a little where necessary, and did his best to hold the space they needed to receive the news. He showed up as an intentional leader during a difficult time, and his actions served as an excellent example for other executives to follow.
In my book, Lead with Heart & Leave a Legacy, I talk about my own experience as a corporate executive faced with communicating a layoff. The lack of progress against the company strategy led to a top-down decision to execute a reduction in the workforce across the organization.
It was a heartbreaking day, but my team needed a sincere, transparent, vulnerable leader. The experience taught me the importance of leading with care and compassion during difficult times and proved to be the best approach in minimizing impact on the people.
When navigating the challenge of layoffs, intentional leaders prioritize taking steps to minimize the impact on their employees. They do this by adopting a heart-led approach that focuses on transparency, compassion, and being connected.
Here are three things that intentional leaders do when navigating the challenge of layoffs:
For my executive client, how he chose to communicate the devastating news influenced how those individuals reacted and accelerated their ability to process through the change. While life-changing, they felt supported and mirrored their leader's calm sense of commitment.
The year 2023 will continue to present many challenges for corporate leaders, including the ongoing issue of layoffs. By communicating transparently, showing care and compassion, and being mindful of the concerns of their remaining employees, corporate leaders can navigate the challenge of layoffs while minimizing employee impact and fostering a culture that will thrive in the years to come.
If you are a corporate leader looking to develop intentional leadership skills in your organization and cultivate a culture of care and compassion even in the most challenging of times, I invite you to work with me.