Have you ever wondered how managers must feel when they have to lay workers off? I have a friend who was recently faced with this terrible task. Knowing her as I do, I am sure that she was compassionate while doing everything she was supposed to do. Still I can see the toll it has taken on her. Her guilt level remains high and that affects her family and friends.
It is natural to feel sad for people who get laid off during these rocky financial and economic times. But generally forgotten are those who have to do the laying off. I admit that I have not given much thought to managers or the survivors, the ones that are left behind to take up the slack while they worry and wonder if they are next to go. After talking to my friend I called later to ask if I had her permission to write about what she is going through. She is filled with anxiety about her own job and guilt about about the workers who were laid off. That can't be easy. She says that the first week was the most difficult, morale was low and people were angry. She found out that some thought that certain layoff's came out of personal dislike, political or simply arbitrary reasons. Unfortunately, she was unable to pass on any information concerning the lay off decisions because she was not told, she was just given a list of names. It would have been helpful if she had been able to give some sort of explanation to share with employees, those leaving and those remaining.
She has taken up the "survival" gauntlet and come out of her office. And, she now has an open-door policy. She has talked to her bosses and has been given some information about the lay off, she asked if she could share some of it with her staff. With the go-ahead to talk, the next day she decided to buy coffee and donuts and meet with everyone. She held her first full staff meeting and shared as much information as she could about the company's situation. She also allowed questions. She asked for ideas and suggestions concerning the changed workload. I understand that this has helped tremendously.
She took a chance and explained her own fear of loosing her job, because she understands that no one is irreplaceable. Instead of making her look weak, her employee's better understand the stress and strain she is under. They appreciate that she is communicating with them. There is still worry and a great deal of apprehension when her boss enters her office and closes the door. But her new open-door policy does has done a world of good. She plans to hold monthly staff meetings to help her keep the lines of communication open. She says that she has learned not to take things for granted, and says thank you more often than she did in the past. She has finally talked to her husband about how she has been feeling these past weeks.
This story appears to be a good lesson for anyone faced with being the one to bear the bad news of lay offs to employees.