Dignity. Grace. Respect

Why is it that businesses immediately jump to letting employees go as a means to helping themselves financially? Do they consider other options? Do they involve the team to help identify options? Strategies such as cutting expenses or benefits, looking for new business development opportunities, or even having the CEO take a pay cut. (I have actually known several that have done this because for these organizations the employees were the most important asset). Instead, many jump on the quick fix to their bottom line. They take their loyal, dedicated employees who have supported the organization and been a valuable asset straight to the chopping block.    

Letting employees go is one of the most difficult things to do. I have certainly had to do my share in my career. But I learned early on that employees can understand difficult decisions a bit better when three elements are involved. Dignity. Grace. Respect.

I was part of an organization that did 5 layoffs in a years’ period of time.  One of the five layoffs involved 80 people. As VP of HR, I could have easily hidden behind my staff and had them manage the meetings and transition each of these individuals out.  I met individually in person with each person. I met with them because it was the right thing to do.  Each of these individuals had lives and family that would be affected by losing their job and I wanted to make sure they were taken care of. While the organization needed to reduce the financial bleeding, I pushed for severance and the employees received it.  It was important that these individuals knew that they were respected and while the severance wouldn’t give them security for an extended period, it was something to help them ease their anxiety for the short term. Prior to being let go, these employees came to work every day, gave their all, and upheld the values of our organization. I couldn’t imagine not showing them dignity, grace and respect.  And I didn’t let anyone go early because they had finished their last project before their separation date. Kind of a slap in the face, don’t you think? 

As leaders, we can all do a better job leading.  Every day. We are all work in progress (or at least for most, we know we should be.)  Let’s all try to remember that our goal is to grow our people, send them out into the world to fly, and to always treat them with dignity, grace and respect.

It really is pretty simple.  

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