As I write this, I am reminded of a moment from about ten years ago – my partner at the time had to “fire/ let go” of an employee in his organization. It was a small organization and there was only one casualty, yet I clearly recall him saying, that it was one of the hardest things he had ever done. While feeling for him, I never quite grasped the extent of his internal struggle, until recently – mostly because I regularly work with people, who have the need to fire others. On the other hand, I have worked with an equal number of people, who have been let go, or are fearful of being let go.
Letting go and Being Let go, is part and parcel of Corporate life. I also believe that intelligence, past success and track-record of the individual has little to do with the actual decision of the organization. Quite often, redundancies are tactical or strategic activities, undertaken by an organization based on immediate financial demands of the organization. Going forward, we can be certain that automation and technological advances, will be at cause for many more mass redundancies. The thing about redundancies is that – It’s rarely personal.
On the flip side however and at an individual level, it is deeply personal – both for the person deciding/ relaying the news to the employee/s in question, and the employee/s themselves.
Let’s look at the internal struggles of both sides and some strategies on coping with the situation.
First the decision makers/ bearers of bad news:
For this human, it is more than anything else – an ethical and moral dilemma. They feel a deep burden of responsibility as they think about the negative impacts their actions could have on the lives of the people, they would impact. The more empathetic and values driven they are, the greater the internal struggle.
As an example, a leader who always thought of himself as empathetic and compassionate, suddenly feels challenged because firing people never feels like an empathetic or compassionate act.
Questions that generally arise from their internal struggle are:
The reality of life is that, in the short term we can never know if a certain action is good or bad for any of the parties involved, even though outwardly it may seem obviously “bad” for one. I know many people, who say that being let go by their company, was one of the best things that happened to them. Even though when it happened, it felt bad. (More on this in Part 2)
If you have ever felt like “I need to let people go – How can I ever recover from this?!” ,
here are a few strategies to cope:
In my next article, I will share the internal struggles of the human on the other side of this dilemma.
P.S. – I am grateful for having the opportunity to work with and Coach some great leaders across industries, without whom this article would not have come about.
P.P.S – Would love to hear some of your experiences around the issue.
P.P.S – I am grateful that I finally feel a relief from my writer’s block 😊