I had to layoff four people in the first 30 days

I had to layoff four people in the first 30 days of one of my roles as a CEO. It was very difficult.

As a leader you most certainly will have to make a difficult decision that will affect someone’s life if you haven’t already. When we can lean in to the difficult feeling this brings us and deal with them first, we can better bring compassion to the situation and others. These decisions can leave us feeling hurtful, frustrated, too practical, disliked and more. Name the feelings. Being comfortable with our own discomfort is a good place to start.

Open communication with others is the first step to building bridges not road blocks. I met with each person in the office and asked very specific questions about what they thought the direction of the office should be, what our strengths and weaknesses were and what they would do if they were me.

They saw the layoffs coming. I placed as many people elsewhere as I could and promised those left behind that we would eliminate unnecessary work and reengineer what needed to be done so they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. I told them my door was always open and counseled them to mourn the good times with the people who were gone or they’d mourn change which would be harder on them. We got through it and became more effective than ever before.

Looking back I realize that asking the right questions built essential trust and rapport. I cared what they thought and valued their insight. The result was that they were honest with me. No one resented the changes. We all just missed the people.


I have some exciting news! I have been named a columnist for The Ladders - The $100,000+ job site. Each week The Ladders emails its subscribers articles on career development and includes my stories. The Ladders editorial team has created an archive page with my content. If you'd like to see my content for The Ladders click here

Your coach,

Mary Lee

P.S. Feel free to forward this to someone who could benefit from it. We are all walking down the same road in life.


Mary Lee Gannon, ACC, CAE is an executive coach and 18-year corporate CEO who helps leaders have more effective careers, happier lives and better relationships. Get her FREE Career and Life Planning Tool  to be more effective, the leader everyone wants to work for and have a better connection with the people who matter while it still matters. If you don't know where you will be at the end of 2018, you are already there.   


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