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Leading After a Layoff

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Leading After a Layoff

Five Proven Steps To Quickly Reignite Your Team

Adams Media ,

15 min read
10 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

The layoff ax has fallen. Now you have to lead the survivors. Here's how to rally the troops without being a hero.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Author Ray Salemi's neat little book offers excellent advice on how to get through "the worst of times." Management treads thin ice after layoffs. Everyone is sensitive and even the smallest error in dealing with colleagues can be magnified. When productivity drops, frustration naturally sets in. Salemi points out the most serious land mines managers should avoid. He focuses on the needs of mid-level managers and project team leaders, rather than those higher up the executive food chain. The book's advice, while sometimes basic, will substantially bolster the emotional intelligence quotient of the average manager coping with the awkward post-layoff period. strongly recommends this book to managers who have avoided the layoff purge and now need to rally the stunned survivors.


Step One: "Restoring Trust"

It's the day after "Bloody Monday." Or Bloody Tuesday, Bloody Wednesday, Bloody Thursday - whichever day of the week your company announced layoffs. The bad news has devastated everyone. Now, how do you begin to heal the fragile morale in your office?

Begin by accepting the fact that layoffs often dash employees' trust in the organization. Trust is the foundation of teamwork, so your primary mission is restoring that confidence. Start with a guiding principle: "Leader, assess thyself." Just as if you are sitting on a plane when the oxygen masks deploy, you must take care of yourself before you can help others. As the leader, begin the recovery process by taking an honest inventory of your feelings. Until you analyze your reaction, you can't assist other passengers.

Most managers feel pressure to remain strong and deny or avoid the grieving process, even as they help others grieve. This can be disastrous for you and for your team. Look inside and consider what impact the layoffs had on you. You have a responsibility to move forward emotionally. That may require talking in-depth with a trusted friend, writing in a journal, seeking counseling...

About the Author

Ray Salemi headed teams in customer service, engineering and sales for more than 11 years. A resident of Boston, MA, he is the founder of GreatManager Works, a company that helps first-level managers bolster their leadership skills. He has testified on the effects of mergers and acquisition on employees before the U.S. House of Representatives. His writing has appeared in BusinessWeek and in newspapers in Boston, where he lives.

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