Top 10 Layoff Mistakes
from Ketchum's "Layoff Insider"
This article is reprinted with permission from Ketchum Inside,
the workplace communications and change management practice of Ketchum, a
top-10 global public relations firm. (ed,)
1. Treating layoffs like an "event" instead of a "process"
Layoffs do not last for a day. Their impact is felt for a long, long time.
Delivering tough news the right way involves comprehensive pre-planning, flawless
execution, outreach to all key stakeholders, and a clear plan for rebuilding.
Think process, not event.
2. Forgetting to put together a rebuilding plan
Never enter the layoff process without a long-term plan for rebuilding trust
and reenergizing the organization. This should be a critical element of the
planning process. A key success factor: reengaging the survivors in mission
critical activities as soon as possible.
3. Failing to arm managers with adequate information
Most organizational communication is informal in nature. It occurs in the
hallways and by the water coolers. Managers need to help guide those conversations
and provide important information and clarification. Help them understand
and communicate the reasons why the tough decisions that were made have been
4. Ignoring the survivors
Treating those being laid off the right way is critical. But so is addressing
the needs of the survivors, who experience every emotion from guilt to anger
to bewilderment. Talk to the survivors. Understand their concerns. And allow
them time and space to feel whatever they feel.
5. Forgetting important stakeholder groups
Start the initial planning process by identifying all critical stakeholders,
including not just employees, managers and shareholders.but also customers,
communities, families, unions or other special interest groups.
6. Underestimating organizational memory
It ain't over, even when it's over. Employees have long memories when it comes
to layoffs. Never underestimate the significance of layoffs on employees'
7. Failing to monitor the grapevine
Never guess what people are saying - .it's rarely what you thought it would
be. How do you find out what's on their minds? Ask 'em every chance you get.
Consider both formal and informal research. And adjust your communication
plan to fit their reality, not your own.
8. Hiding behind closed doors
Be visible. Your willingness to engage in conversation and to see and be seen
will communicate volumes about your values and leadership. So will your decision
to stay in the bunker. Don't leave it to chance - create a visibility plan
and stick to it.
9. "Not invented here"
It's easy to lead in good times. The real test comes during the tough times.
Real leaders don't "pass the buck" in tough times, just like they don't hog
the credit in the good times. The hidden opportunity here may be to "lead
by example." Smart executives consider cutting their own salary or perks or
taking other visible actions that communicate empathy, if not solidarity,
with their employees.
10. Laying off the wrong employees
Make sure that appropriate due diligence is taken ahead of time to guarantee
that if layoffs need to be made, all considerations are taken into account
when selecting those who must be laid off. Even when the rationale for layoffs
is accepted, employees can be completely unnerved by the elimination of high
performers. It may be unavoidable, but be sure that all considerations are
taken into account and that the decisions made are completely consistent with
the rationale provided.
Ketchum is a three time winner of Inside PR's Agency of the Year and the
seventh-largest agency in the world with more than 1200 employees in dozens
of offices. Ketchum Inside includes internal communication specialists in
virtually all Ketchum offices. It also includes a number of specialty areas
which add unique value for clients. Ketchum offices offer a variety of internal
communication services from: Change Communication; Internal message development
and training; Organizational alignment; Improving Corporate Communication
effectively; and Retention services. For additional information visit Ketchum's
Layoff Insider and Ketchum.com
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
More like this in Leading Change and The
HR Refresher in The CEO Refresher archives