Change After Layoffs-The Latest Trend

This probably does not need much explanation. I can’t imagine there is anyone, at least here in the US, who is not connected directly with someone who has been laid off, lost their job or had their contract cut short (only to have difficulty in replacing the role). Even those in that lofty 1% have peers with major negative career changes (or in the oft chance that is not the case the same 1% likely had a hand in eliminating jobs).

It is what is. Which ought to be the change management motto.

In order to facilitate change in this stripped environment a few things need to be kept in the forefront:

  • There is pain. Obviously anyone you bring on is carrying it with them. Acknowledge that and help them move forward in a positive way. Keep in mind those who stayed are in pain in a different way.
  • Which shows itself in a desperate need for trust. Those very executives who let the last group go are now leading the charge with the leftovers (who says those remaining think they were the winners?). If those executives are not personally connected to the change (and clearly accountable for the results) you have a long road ahead of you.
  • The internal backlash is to hunker down in your silo and refortify the walls- good luck with Horizontal Change. Someone has to be able to scale the walls to present the Makes Sense change. Ideally that is senior executives, secondarily that is the change management consultant carrying the message, the third option is to leverage the senior leaders within the silo to carry the message. Barring all that some version of collaborative cross functional teamwork needs to appear.
  • Everything is virtual and travel budgets went with the layoffs. Now you have to have a local representative when you use awareness and brown bag sessions. Somehow, some way there needs to be actual in person connection. The more horizontal, the more cross functional, the better.
  • It is time for ideas. Enough with the “this needs to be done tomorrow approach”. Every deliverable should be questioned for its ability to move things into the future. Every meeting should have a why component (and a hint: the insistence on steps from meetings is not necessarily productive- especially if you are looking through a long term lens).
  • How about some genuine “you did well” at the personal level rewards, kudos and acknowledgements?


Someone, some group of people stripped the human element from careers, jobs and roles. Everything is commoditized in the interest of productivity. Half of your work neighbors seem to have gone missing (and if you look a lot of them are doing better as things pick up- change is good). Change in that environment takes a special kind of tact and knowledge.

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