53: Panel: Handling layoffs like a human

53: Panel: Handling layoffs like a human

In times of upheaval, organisations often resort to mass layoffs and downsizing. We talk about all the ways you can do it right! I’d love your thoughts on this episode! Comment below, and like/love/share/support if you found this inspiring, thought-provoking, or useful! In the meantime, you might also like to read this article Charlotte wrote last year, based on interviews with those who have been let go.

Charlotte Ward 0:12
Hello, and welcome to the customer support leaders podcast. This is session 53. I’m Charlotte Ward. Today we have another special panel edition and we’re tackling a very difficult topic. This week we’re talking about layoffs. First of all to the panel today I’d like to welcome previous podcast guest Matt Dale. Matt is VP of support at illuminate education. Welcome also to Greg Skirving. Greg is a Support Manager at Broadcom in the Symantec enterprise division. And welcome also to Kimmie Sesnon. Kimmie was remote customer experience manager Airbnb for nearly eight years. Welcome also to new guests Max Bauer. Max is a customer service leader with over a decade of experience in the video gaming industry. I’d like to also welcome Vijaya Panthagani. Vijaya leads the priority support programme for us enterprise customers at Citrix and is based out of Bangalore in India. And welcome also finally to Kaylin Bailey Kaylin works with Matt at illuminate education, and is director of customer support there. Thank you so much everyone for joining me today. So we are here in very difficult times. And this seemed the best time possible to talk about a very difficult subject, which is, how to handle layoffs, and how to let people go, and how to treat these human beings like human beings at a particularly difficult point in their career and a particularly difficult point for our organisations. So I’d like to thank you all for joining me. And I’d like to open up the conversation. First of all, With a little bit of a discussion about what do you think have been some good experiences, or some good stories that you’ve come across, when you know this is going to happen? Whether you want it to or not, I mean, quite often these changes are not our decision, right? So, how you handle that? When you first find out what’s your approach, how have you have you felt in that kind of situation?

Kimmie Sesnon 2:24
Hey, Charlotte, this is Kimmie. I, you know, I’ve been really fortunate in the fact that I’ve never technically been laid off. But my daughter does work for Salesforce. And I’m there they had to lay off 200 people because a product was going which happens. But she just texts me and she said she was almost in tears because they decided that every one of those people who essentially was going to be paid until April and that was it. They were no longer being laid off. They were being outsourced to other areas, or even if they weren’t used, they were going to still be paid. And their insurance was going to be covered. And they were going to put out to other larger companies that CEOs do the same thing. That doesn’t mean that those people aren’t going to be laid off. They know, gosh, it gives them time to not only come to this moment and other acceptance, but to start looking for other opportunities while they’re going through this. I thought that was really cool. really classy.

Charlotte Ward 3:35
Yeah, so being forewarned is definitely being forearmed. Right. How do you think that plays out, though, in their mindset, as they’re still trying to continue to do the job?

Kimmie Sesnon 3:48
Yeah, that is, um, that is without a doubt, there’s gonna be instances of people tend not to do their, you know, maybe slack a little bit. But I think that That’s our opportunities as leaders as managers to hop in there and be compassionate and empathetic, but also not give them an earful of Oh, everything’s gonna be okay. It sucks being laid off, you know, you will want to be honest and truthful and um, you know what these people do right then in their in their jobs will still bear weight on what happens going forward in their new position. So, in a sense, I want to say everybody, you know, yeah, you’d want to do this maybe but you know, what, do great job and then I will give you a really great referral going forward. And you will, you know, you’ll show that you can carry it out in the tough times. And some of these, especially these layoffs, layoffs that are circumstantial, that have nothing to do with them, they just have to be able to sort of own it and as an adult, you just have to grit through it and but as manager, you can make things better

Charlotte Ward 5:00
Yeah, yeah. How do you prep for that? Then do you think as a manager, how do you think you want once that decision has been made, and as I said, is often outside you control? How do you open those discussions up?

Matt Dale 5:17
from, from my perspective, there’s kind of two things you have to think about, you need to think about the person that you’re going to be or the people that you’re going to be laying off. And you have to think about how you message it with the rest of the company. And I think both of those are are similar, but they’re actually very different in what you want to think about when you’re talking about the person you want to be. How do we help them? How do we be humane through this? How do we be compassionate with these folks that are going through probably one of the worst experiences of you know, certainly their week or their month? And how do we help make it set up so that they are feel taken care of through the process that they can process their emotions, and I’ve seen these go anywhere from I had a person that was screaming at me and throwing things at one one situation. And I’ve had situations where there’s kind of a quiet acceptance like, Hey, I could see this was coming. We We needed to do this makes sense, I’m really hurt. But you know, I’m okay with that. And you kind of see the whole spectrum there. But I think we need to plan for how do we how do we communicate that? Is there a specific message that we need, from a legal perspective? communicate? And if so, is there room for us to be human as well and, you know, plan for having a, you know, box of tissues that that’s there for the person or, you know, be able to be, you know, what words are we allowed to say, from an HR perspective? And what words are we required and, and so I think that’s half of it. And then the other half is, okay, now we’ve got this, this team here that’s hurting, they’ve lost a number of people in the organisation, maybe people that worked very closely with they were friends with and how do we interact with them? How do we give them enough information so that they can see what has happened and understand some of the reasoning behind it? Because if you don’t give them that information, they’re going to fill it in with their own thoughts. And that’s going to go to kind of a worst case scenario like, well, this this this group of people got laid off, I’m expecting to get laid off too and I’m freaking out and then As leaders, we have that responsibility to take care of them, give them enough information, so they know what’s going on and how this affects them. And I think, you know, like, like Kenny was saying, be real with them. Don’t Don’t make stuff up and know it’s gonna be fine. Like, hey, this is a tough time for us as a business right now we’re trying to hedge our bets, no, looking at the virus situation. We’re trying to make sure we have enough cash flow so that we can be a viable business in August. We don’t know what the future looks like. So right now, as a company, we’re deciding to do this. And here’s here’s the action that’s been taken. It’s really hard for us. Just like it’s really hard for these people. And, you know, how can we how can we move through that as an organisation and know that we’re going to have people that are gone and holes in the company, but we need to we need to band together and do what we can do. Can you move forward? Yeah,

Charlotte Ward 7:48
yeah. So having a not just a plan for the layoffs, but a really careful communication plan is really important for both the internal folks and the external folk.

Matt Dale 7:59
The ones where this has gone Well for me is when we’ve had good communication plans in both cases, the ones where it’s gone really badly is when it’s a surprise and, and senior leadership is saying, Hey, we want to keep this completely under wraps because we’re worried about it leaking or whatever. And then you know, managers and directors and VPS don’t know it’s coming in it comes as a big shock. I think it’s better to get as many people under the under the tent so that they can make those plans and be there for our folks.

Kimmie Sesnon 8:25
And inevitably, under wraps never works. You always you know, you hear that and that is the worst as being a manager that you know how to deal with this before in smaller circumstances. Nothing’s worse than having your people tell you something before you knew it. I mean, that is just or I mean, from Airbnb perspective, my users.

Charlotte Ward 8:52
Right, a lot of what the worst situation I’ll have I’ve ever had is being told about two ways am in a hotel bathroom while I was on holiday, that these decisions have been made and I was gonna have to impart that information over the next couple of days to my team, but as you said, the thing is under wraps like that never works. People find out particularly when you’re in a large organisation and you have timezones at play. There’s so many organisations where people forget that at the high level that the people that are six hours ahead of you are going to know before you know that something is happening today. So under wraps, never works, does it?

Kaylin Bailey 9:36
I know organizationally, you’re right. I don’t think under wraps always works. And I’ve seen it go in the direction where HR pulls the managers together a couple of days before we really get to come up with a plan HR get to set expectations and we can ask questions and that I think is a really good way to set us up for success as managers to do layoffs. It also for me, was a good way to go. Okay. If I’m feeling something or have questions, these are the people that I can go to in these next couple of days. While I hold on to this information that’s really hard to handle until the point where we deliver the news. So I think that organizationally, it’s really helpful to get leaders together and have a conversation as well.

Kimmie Sesnon 10:18
That’s the best way to do.

Max Bauer 10:21
Yeah, I fully agree, I can only say the best ones I experienced. And sadly, I had to go through a couple of them and work through them. And the best ones, if you can say the best ones, at least, those that went reasonably well, but the ones where there was a lot of planning, and I think there’s not enough planning that can be done beforehand. Ideally, in a small group, I would actually say to keep the initial group as small as possible because the leaks always happen. And it’s the worst if the entire team knows that something’s coming already a month before, and that just is so much insecurity that even the people that are not affected, they will start looking for another job. And that’s exactly Do you not want to have and in that light also those are usually the people that are the highest performance because they have the best chance to find a new job and you want to keep those usually around. So um, you know, planning planning is the main thing. Small Group plan as much as you can, it will never be perfectly smooth. That’s impossible but especially the communication plan needs to be as detailed as humanly possibly and then you have a good chance of getting this through in an OK manner.

Kimmie Sesnon 11:32
Yeah, I was gonna say that sometimes that fall out internally can be just as emotionally devastating. Because this is like a death in the family. It can be because we spend more time with these people than we do our spouses or friends or girlfriends or boyfriends technically. Especially if I was remote. And so literally I was available all the time and and you spend an hour godly amount of time with your people at work. And when all of a sudden it’s not planned and it’s just one day you’re done. It is so unbelievable, it’s less about the job. And it’s more about locks. And going through that grieving process. Sometimes you don’t even think about the job, you know, and you know how to time like this, everybody’s talking about it. But that’s as a manager, something that I always have liked to do is follow up with my team members, not just once but keep on doing it and offering resources and an ear and someone to be heard and if they need to vent vent, you know, just be them for them but don’t fall off the face of the earth and times that these people need to post.

Charlotte Ward 12:52
You’ve really segwayed very nicely into one of my other discussion points can be so I think we should go there right now which is talking about how we manage that fallout from the inside because you’re right, this is a parting of ways and there is grieving to be done. And there is management of that. All of that Fallout to be done from from us as leaders. So how do we do that? What’s the best way we can help the people who are there?

Max Bauer 13:19
I want to say something here. I have seen a couple of times in redundancies, and that was that upper management was expecting productivity throughout the entire time. And that’s just terrible. Because there’s, it’s the least that people have on their mind is doing their normal job and being productive. And so at the very least, we create, just don’t look at KPIs at all. And if they want to do work to distract themselves, that’s cool. But if they just need time to talk with their peers and block through this, they meet the time anyway, so you pay the price. If you give them some time off for Just ignore KPIs or suffer through it in the weeks after, because they’ve gone out. You’ll have it either way. So it’s better to to count it in, right from the start.

Matt Dale 14:10
I think on that point, too, it’s very easy for us, especially if we’ve been involved in the planning process to kind of go, Hey, like, I’ve had time to process my emotions about this, I’ve made a decision, I understand the backstory. But for the thing that about the folks on the frontlines here, this is brand new news for them as of when you tell it to them. And and it is going to be a shock, it’s a loss, and then there’s pain. And so to say, Hey, you know, get back in and keep doing productive work? Well, I may have been thinking about it for a week. This is the first time that they’ve had to process that and they need to go through that time. So I think I think a week off of KPIs or or whatever, just being realistic about that. It’s really important part of the plan.

Charlotte Ward 14:46
Yeah, and I think I think so much that is so true of any big upheaval in an organisation isn’t it any way you could apply that? That logic of just ignoring the KPIs that that just for me, it’s just it’s not really asking them to take their foot off the pedal. It’s just giving them a bit of headspace to deal with what’s going on. Whether it is a bunch of layoffs or a very strange court working from quarantine situation, these big changes. We need headspace field to cope with them. And overly over concentrated on KPIs and over focus on KPIs at that point is too much pressure.

Kimmie Sesnon 15:26
Yeah, absolutely. I realised word from just staying away from the word of metrics. And also HR isms. I don’t know about you, but and it looks like I might. I’m typically in another generation. And it was really new to me. When I especially when I started or maybe in 2011. It gradually these HR, HR speak in HR isn’t like, it was like an electric shock. Every time someone would say this new thing. I’m like, take it out of your vocabulary. And just be real, you know it know that pain, feel it feel that pain. We’ve been through it. I agree.

Charlotte Ward 16:10
kailyn, did you have something to add there as well?

Kaylin Bailey 16:13
Yeah, I think that supports in a unique place where it’s a little harder than other teams, but giving them opportunities straightaway after something like a layoff happens to meet as a small group, but then maybe even meet as a whole team is really important to make them feel heard and feel like Oh, man, I might not have felt comfortable in the all hands meeting asking this question, but it’s on my mind, and it’s a good way to support them and let them you know, grief together as well.

Vijaya Panthagani 16:37
Just to add to what others were saying. So, one thing that I wanted to bring to the table was it’s really important to be emotionally prepared. I’ve been through it twice. letting my team know that there are some layoffs going to happen. I work in Bangalore, India. So there is a lot of emotion involved and if we are not prepared to take on the different types of emotions that come from the team. We are going to get drowned in that. So it’s a skill to be built over a period of time. And that is something that I really learned the first time that I did it, I messed up. And I couldn’t handle the emotions that came my way. I wasn’t really prepared for it. So the moment we hear the news from the top management, it’s important, in my opinion, to be start prepared emotionally becoming emotionally resilient. And playing it in your mind visualising what kinds of questions people would ask what kind of emotions would come into play and kind of be prepared for it else? I feel that, you know, it’s going to be not so good place to be. Yeah.

Greg Skirving 17:50
And, yeah, I was gonna say for the folks that are left, they still have a little uncertainty as to what their future is. So you have to be cognizant of that. Also, as leaders, you know, you need to do a good job of knowing your people. And immediately you’re going to know who will take things in stride. And what’s what’s really important is, is for folks that have never experienced it, it’s all new to them. So being being able to share experiences, reassure and and let people know that, that things will work out, they do need that decompressed time. Everybody needs a little bit, you know, more of it or less of it. But, you know, let people let people grieve a little and, and then slowly, you can get back to back to focusing on on the job, which also in turn, you know, gives people a little more certainty as to as to what their future looks like.

Max Bauer 18:54
I’m going to add here to that and in terms of the future, what the future would look like something that helped me As to always have a plan in the communication for the future. And not just say this is a redundancy, we are cutting down now to for the sake of cutting down or making more profit or whatever that reason is, it’s important to be honest and give that reason. But also to have a plan in place and communicate that and tell them. Look, this is going to be the team structure. And these are the people that are going to take care of this task that is left over just to really make sure that you communicate this plan for the people that are left for them to have something to go on with. So that they know that this is not just coming out of the blue and surprising you as well. They can actually trust you in knowing the way forward.

Charlotte Ward 19:42
Yeah, I think that retiree raised an interesting point there that there is going to be a whole mix of emotions here, actually with the people who are left. And as you said, Greg is kind of knowing your employees as best you can and how they might react to I think that’s really important. The other thing I want, I want to add to all of this is, don’t pretend it didn’t happen. You know, I that organisations who have these big layoffs and then expect people to turn up on the Monday and just get on with their job with these empty desks next to them. I find that whole experience slightly disturbing. And I think that pretending it didn’t happen actually kind of drives a wedge between your you and your your intact team as well. I think that the once these people have been let go that were their teammates, if you pretend it didn’t happen if you refuse to acknowledge that this is a situation that you will now have to deal with. That you you do risk driving that wedge between you and your staff and that which is kind of difficult to remove. You know, I think it’s a it’s a loss of trust somehow and I think also It, it fosters kind of secrecy, because people start to feel like they can’t communicate with their ex colleagues. And those kind of communications and conversations go on to ground in a way. And it just doesn’t breed for a great, you know, a great team spirit for those that remain, I think.

Kaylin Bailey 21:20
I totally agree. I think it’s actually, you know, better to the opposite of that encourage them to reach out and support their colleagues. And one of the things that I think you can do as a leader to show that is go on their LinkedIn and write them a review and not something that everyone can see and kind of set that example that helps them you know, in their endeavours or searching for a new job as well.

Charlotte Ward 21:42
I think it’s Yeah, didn’t do it properly. And sorry, Matt, and do it properly, right. How many of us promise to write that LinkedIn reference as they go out the door and then we get on with our jobs for another four months. I do it that week. Do it that you know, do it that week or two weeks if you can get it out. They’re ready for them to go back in the market. So let’s think about those Oh,

Matt Dale 22:06
sorry, sorry, I was just to say on that, on that note to Charlotte, we can actually, if we know it’s happening at a time, you can actually write those in a text document on your computer and be ready to go so that when it happens, you don’t want to be suspicious and weird ahead of time. But if you have a little bit of breathing room to be able to say, like, I’ve cranked through these prior to the emotions that we’re going to be dealing with, that I need to deal with as a leader, I can kind of front load that work, and then be there for my people who are going to be leaving. But but have it ready for them. I think that’s really, really powerful. I think there is also a time as leaders where we can be, it’s really important to be genuine and to be it’s okay to show emotion. In this case, I think there’s a real big push in business to say, Hey, we’re all you know, a bunch of strong and robots and we don’t have feelings and for your team to see that, hey, this is really hard. I don’t think it’s fair for us to be in the thing with letting the person go and say, Hey, you know, this is really hard for me to that’s that’s baloney. And we should should never ever, ever have that in our vocabulary because our day is nowhere near as hard. They’re dead. But I think for her to say, hey, look, this is this is hard for us to do as an organisation, I’m feeling I’m Miss Jo, I wish she was still here, he was a great part of our team, to have that, that moment of being real and human, that that’s an opportunity to connect where they can say, Ah, you know, you know, to Max’s point, we’ve got a plan, here’s what we’re going to do to take over the extra work but I just want to let you guys know that this is something that we’re struggling with this is hard, this is bad. This is this is not the fun stuff that we want to be doing as an organisation and, and if you can tap into that and be real, then your people are going to see that and appreciate. So I think it’s kind of a make or break situation, we can either have a real big positive where they can see you as a leader or it can be a he’s a robot or she doesn’t care and you know,

Kimmie Sesnon 23:46
it’s a win or lose there and you want to make the right choice. And there are other leadership styles. I think this is a perfect opportunity for people to learn how to reach out to another leader that they know is Really good at the emotional side and that because this is tough, they need people that are empathetic and compassionate. And so if you know that you’re not as anyone that’s digging insights can see you know what colour you are, and how to how to approach those people. It’s great to have someone else to gain learning from in this in this point, I personally end up always crying, which isn’t a good thing, but you know, are using me way too many emojis. But there is something to be said about that, you know, heartfelt smile.

Charlotte Ward 24:39
Well, it probably too much cliche. So sorry, Caitlin. It prevents you from being too cliche, doesn’t it if you’re willing to be a bit emotional about it, because I think one of the worst way ways you can handle this and maybe we’ll go on to talk about the outgoing folks themselves in a second but one of the worst ways you can handle this as a leader Aside from being a true robot is just to be the cliche machine. You know, it is what it is. You know, please don’t go there.

Kaylin Bailey 25:11
Yep. I this is a scenario as a leader that people would appreciate emotion to the point of tears. I think that it’s, it’s justified. And again, like Charlotte said, You’re not a robot and you do care. And it was hard for for everyone you know.

Charlotte Ward 25:26
So let’s push on with something that we touched on briefly earlier, which is some of the support we can give the folks who are leaving, we’ve already talked about prompt, LinkedIn references. What else can we do to help them with that transition out into their job search or into a new role or, you know, whatever other part of their life they’re going to expand into next?

Greg Skirving 25:51
I think I think the thing is, well, except for Kimmy apparently, remembering the first time you were laid off I know that I was fortunate enough to get outplacement services at the time so there was a smooth transition for, for me, but obviously in technology, people get laid off. And I’ve been in situations where the company has had to layoff people, I’ll, you know, obviously provide the support that they need. But I’ll also help them with the resume, Help Help them dust that up, dust that off and get that spruced up. Also reference. We did some layoffs recently. And I was references and actually, you know, was on calls with the hiring managers as as a reference for my folks. So just letting them know that I’m still invested in them, even even though they’re gone really helps.

Vijaya Panthagani 26:54
This is one of the Sorry to interrupt. One of the recent trends that have seen online In when we started, you know, when the whole covert 19 thing started was, I’ve seen several managers, you know, writing about their people who have been let go, tagging them, and then connecting them to recruiters on a public forum. So the amount of comments and the references and people willing to, you know, pick them up or talk to them or message them on that platform was really amazing, because it’s not like your regular recruiter, but you have a whole platform of people becoming like part time recruiters to really help out in these situations.

Kimmie Sesnon 27:43
Depending upon the tenure of your team as well, as much as I hate to say this, this could be like lemons into lemonade. Sometimes people have stayed in positions for far too long and they’re just sort of doing their thing and I’ve found that you You can add humour to something as tragic as having a team laid off or a department laid off. If you can find that place where you can laugh, find something to laugh about, it really helps.

Max Bauer 28:17
To put on a really obvious one and it’s time, the more time they have to find a new job, the better and that often translates just simply back into money. So we have the influence to increase their savings. And I would always say that’s the most impactful you can do for them. I’ve often seen companies to like token things where they get like a parting gift of the product that the company is doing. And if there’s a decision between the two giving a product or a gift versus a higher severance, I would always say give the severance even if it might look like boring or cheaper. We’re not doing enough but money is time means giving them a better chance of finding a new job soon.

Charlotte Ward 29:03
Yeah, absolutely. I think that there are other things that you can do if the pot isn’t huge, and let’s face it, I think it’s unlikely to be huge in the current climate for a lot of organisations. You know, you could have with some planning, if you’re lucky, as Greg said, you can have kind of outplacement or career coaching that kind of thing in place is really useful. Certainly following them on their journey after they walk out of the door, virtual or otherwise of the organisation. And and giving them a lift up, you know, actually proactively helping them find good contacts and make good connections as they leave. I mean, these these are things that kind of cost little to no money, really, and I think they can, they can really expedite that search that search, can’t they as well. So that Even if you don’t buy them time with money, you you actually speed up things for them otherwise. And, you know, I think I think it’s worth just going back to the LinkedIn reference, but but also all of those other things, finding connections for them, and everything else that you might do. It’s worth bearing in mind that when they leave, they’re probably not in the best place. And they aren’t necessarily actually going to ask you for those things promptly. And I think that’s why it’s really important to to proactively offer them promptly.

Matt Dale 30:34
Well, and on that note to Charlotte about, you know, they’re going through a really rough day, in a really rough time, and they don’t know what the future looks like. There’s a lot of uncertainty. You know, and as I think of right now, with with the covered virus, I think we’re laying people off into a job market, it’s really uncertain. There’s a lot of shock and like, Oh my gosh, this just happened. What does this mean for me? What does this mean for my family situations, you may have new spouses. partners that are both getting laid off around this time or what is what does that look like? So I think your point is really good people are going to be in a state of shock when this happens. And that can manifest itself in different ways. But if if we have the opportunity to connect with them a little later and say, Hey, you know, can I get your personal email? Or would you be okay? If I reach out to you, in a week or so I just like to see how you’re doing. And I want to be here for you and see what I can do. A lot of times, like when we when I think about grief, and I think of someone you know, someone passing away or something like that. Initially, there’s this real big outpouring of, here’s all this stuff, here’s all the information, someone’s baking food, you know, and people are in their lives, but it is as they move past that point, as they move into, you know, week two, week three, week four, month two, month three, suddenly, there’s nobody there and it can feel very alone and very, very hard. And I think as compassionate folks, if if we have the opportunity to leave that door open and check back in in a month. Hey, I just was thinking about you. How are things What’s going on? What can I help with? Or instead of asking what can I help with saying, Hey, I wrote This letter reference, I’d like to post your your resume up on LinkedIn, would that be okay? Because sometimes we lose situations we can’t actually think about what we need we just so if someone says, Hey, I can do anything, what do you want me to do that that’s different than if they say, Hey, can I write you a letter? And I don’t know. So I think, thinking about it not as this is an event that happened today, but rather, this is something that’s happening to this person for a period of time, how can I help be with them through that, and show that compassion?

Charlotte Ward 32:25
Yeah, and it’s on you can be a really, really useful ongoing help, you know, a month, six months, even a year down the line, you know, these people pretty well, by and large. You’ve tried the same patch of carpet with them. If you’re in an office for six months, or a year or five or 10 years, whatever it is, and, you know, you might just be their doorway into an opportunity that they would not have encountered otherwise. And that doorway might not immediately be apparent, but it’s always worth proactively pushing out to them.

Kimmie Sesnon 32:58
And if you’re not holistically Good remembering set yourself calendar date, you know, a calendar reminder to just check in because for me, that definitely helps

Charlotte Ward 33:11
me close out my head.

Kaylin Bailey 33:15
Yep, additional benefit to this is when people leave in to get laid off, it doesn’t mean that everyone stops talking to them. So as you support people that have been laid off in their next step, your team’s gonna hear about that and know that you really care about your team deeply and doesn’t just end with being laid off or leaving the team. So I think that’s a good

Charlotte Ward 33:35
point as well. Yeah, absolutely. That comes back slightly to this kind of just not encouraging distance between your team as well and the outgoing folk, doesn’t it?

Matt Dale 33:50
Well, it’s also something to I think we have, in many cases, at least experience with with putting people in performance plans and firing them for cause and so we kind of in our industry, mindset of, well, this is the end of the relationship, they have burned the bridges like this is destroyed. And so we can very easily get caught up in that normal processes for HR. In that situation. I think this is a very different situation. And so we need to change our mindset and think about it as this is not a severing, because they have violated some part of the relationship, but rather, this is, you know, this isn’t something that anybody wanted, how can I have been helped them through this? And it’s just a different mindset. So I just would encourage people to be open to that and think about it differently than a typical, firing someone or letting them go for cause. Yeah, this.

Charlotte Ward 34:36
Sorry, Kimmy, sorry. I was just gonna say to that point, that actually this isn’t usually for any cause. I mean, there might be spreadsheets in the back end that you know, try and draw judgments around skill levels or 10 year old or just cost benefit of keeping certain people on over others, right, but all of those people that are walking out of the door I feel like it’s their fault.

Max Bauer 35:04
It’s actually a point that I always have to remember when this happens that to spell it out to really tell these people as emotionally affected as possible that it’s not their fault. It’s not based on their performance. And then I think it’s very important for them to hear that even multiple times because otherwise they might not believe it. Being let go is always a feeling of I did something wrong. I wasn’t good enough. Why me? Why not the others. And that’s a typical instinct and to counteract that as much as we can. This is very helpful for them.

Charlotte Ward 35:39
Yeah, absolutely. So let’s move on then to keeping it personal. We’ve talked a little bit about some of the things that we can do. But I’d really love to explore some of the some more how, how in depth you prepared to go when it comes to Getting personally involved with with your outgoing team members what what, what I mean if there’s one thing I’m going to I’m going to come to you later for like a single piece of advice but from a really personal level, what do you think you can do for these people that that is entirely outside of the remit of yourself in the you know, with your your company’s logo as a backdrop outside of the remit of your organisation Do you think we can be Do you think there is cause to be particularly personal about this? And if so, what can we do for them that that really is not organisational? I’m going to give this one to Greg first go on Greg.

Greg Skirving 36:45
Yeah, I for me personally, like I say I tell people to stay positive. I help them as much as I can. Let them know that I’ve gone through it and I am I can be empathetic, I know exactly what you feel. I know exactly what’s going on. And the first time it happened to me, I thought the world was gonna end. And, but you get through it. And I think, I think not backing off every little thing people were going to do. So for instance, if you were going to, I know this is a little different situation with the virus in the non travel but, you know, in a situation when you’re laid off, some people will always use I can’t take that trip or I can’t do that. On the contrary, you should continue as as as much as as possible with with what you were doing, you still need to live and obviously it’s a little challenging with with, obviously travel with this right now, but I like to, I like to. I like to you know, provide the professional guidance. I will follow up You know, how are things going but for me, it’s about, you know, moving forward, getting people focused on the next chapter in their lives. And one of the comments is maybe maybe it is time for a change for, for some folks. And yeah, just, that’s, that’s kind of what I keep.

Kaylin Bailey 38:21
I always like to provide them with my personal email or even a phone number on the way out the door to, I think it’s a good way to really indicate, hey, I care about you as a person outside the organisation. You know, we can talk about whatever career development or help you with your resume and they’ve got contact info for me for longer than I stay at that organisation.

Kimmie Sesnon 38:42

Charlotte Ward 38:44
he, we keep talking over each other don’t we Kimmie? I think that’s, that’s a really important point, though, that you know, your relationship began in this organisation. It doesn’t end because one or both of you leaves that organisations That’s really nice that you have a personal contact. LinkedIn quite often provides us with that nowadays, but there’s something slightly more personal even about an email address. LinkedIn, you know, you can always get people through LinkedIn and get in touch with people but, but having a personal way to communicate straight to their inbox, is it does send the message that you are willing to stay in touch and that that is a long term arrangement in the long term, a long term kind of objective really, outside of the organisation.

Matt Dale 39:36
Becoming a situation to where you can meet them for coffee or or say, Hey, can I can I buy you lunch? You know, and how are things going and having that personal face to face connection if you’re geographically nearby, which doesn’t always happen in this modern era, but but if they’re nearby, I think being able to share a meal or to share a cup of coffee and just how are you doing? I’ve been thinking a lot about you, you know, and even bringing some of the stuff that we’ve talked about a letter of reference or something to that meeting? I think that can that can mean a lot to have that, that face to face. I also really like what Caitlin was saying about, you know, making sure that they have your personal phone number in the personal email because sometimes there’s a feeling I can angry at the company, but I’m not angry at the boss, or I’m, you know, we can kind of separate those two, those two people I know a lot of stuff we’ve talked about in the first section was like, hey, what can we do as an organisation versus what can we do as people? And I think there’s a lot of overlap, which may be why, you know, looking around this group, it’s like, oh, everyone’s kind of thinking about it, because how is that any different, but really making that personal connection and outside of the organisation? I think it’s important.

Charlotte Ward 40:39
And you, you said something that made me slightly chuckle internally there, which is that you know, you’re angry at the organisation, but you’re not angry your boss. That’s assuming the boss has handled it well, right.

Matt Dale 40:52
Yeah, there’s a whole chance that they’re very angry at you because you handled it like a fool and it didn’t come out well. And, and I think that’s actually an Important point to as, as people, we don’t necessarily want to talk to the person that let us go. And so encouraging your team that’s, that’s still there to to maintain those relationships, maybe a more powerful way of connecting then, you know, it’s the VP of support and he was the one that was in that meeting and he read that script that HR made him read and he, he let me go and I’m angry at that guy. Cool. But but maybe, you know, a team leader, a director or or someone else on the team below, say, Hey, you know, have you have you talked to Joe lately? I haven’t I haven’t heard from him in a while. Yeah, he’s doing okay. You know, give him our guards or whatever it is, it’s being able to make sure that that person has a support network around them is really good. And again, that could be you as the boss and that could be not you and knowing knowing the difference is important.

Charlotte Ward 41:47
And just giving my regards I mean, that the message hopefully that gets back to him if you say it to enough people that you check in with, how’s that guy doing now? Eventually don’t even if they were nervous about approaching someone as as grand as the VP of support that, you know, that ultimately that they may be are actually, you know, he’s, he seems to ask a few times about me Maybe I’ll drop him an email to let him know personally how I’m doing and that opens up that communication.

Matt Dale 42:16
Interestingly enough, we had a situation where someone left the company wasn’t a layoff, that person wanted wanted to leave, but I did my normal thing, which is, hey, let me get a reference letter reference for LinkedIn. And that person hasn’t accepted my LinkedIn request. And I’m like, this is interesting, because I can’t actually give them a good like, hey, things went well, because we’re not connected that way. And so I’ve had to actually talk to some of the other folks on the team that know that they’re friends and said, Hey, like, how so and so doing and you know, I’ve got a letter of reference if they’re interested, that sort of thing and hasn’t come back yet. But But I still have that in my in my safe text file that if that person decides at some point, they need that then then I’m ready to go. And I think it’s important to realise that we can’t always be doing all the things that we want to for someone Sometimes they’re just not interested in and that’s okay too. They’re processing it their own way.

Charlotte Ward 43:05
Yeah, absolutely. And we’re talking quite a lot here about longer term about the value of personal and long term check ins and opportunities, communication and, and, you know, giving them opportunities by references, networking and everything else. But you know, you said there about the VP of support here, read the HR script on the day. And you know, these things on the day. They are quite often heavily scripted. There’s a lot of, say, legal safeguarding and other safeguarding that goes on. What do you think we can do on the day, personally, and I know this is going to vary a lot by organisation because some are more stringent and restrictive in those on those days than others. But I’m kind of thinking even to the most restrictive circumstances or something Aside from the conversation where it happens, and we talked about awkward conversations before, definitely, but what can you do on the day?

Kaylin Bailey 44:09
I think it’s important to show emotion, maybe not to the extreme of crying. But you can read the script in a way that feels like you care. Or you can read it like a robot, and the more that they can feel that you care, I think that it goes a long way.

Matt Dale 44:26
I think trying to think about it from their perspective, too, and being ready for whatever situation comes up. So making sure there’s a tissue box on the desk, having a box ready, or several boxes ready and available if they need to clear out their desk. I always try to think I’ve seen some people that want to just leave and don’t want to talk to anybody. And I’ve seen scenarios where people want to come in, they want to say goodbye and hug people and go through that whole process and I want to make sure that I’m honouring them in whatever that is. So if you want to sneak out the back door, you know, I’ll actually say that, hey, you know, you can go talk to people, I’ve got boxes. If you’d rather you can sneak out the back door. I’ll get your stuff ready, and you can pick Get up later. Whatever you’re most comfortable with. How can I help you through this so that you’re not you’re not feeling awkward?

Max Bauer 45:07
That’s gold advice. Definitely.

Charlotte Ward 45:11
Yeah, absolutely. It’s such an individual experience for everyone. And, you know, for us as well, you know how we deal with that it’s really quite individual. Okay, well, let’s move on then to my final point, which some people really have trouble with. I always like to leave these panels asking for one piece of advice. Some people think that’s licenced, to give three pieces of advice. And just to let you know, I’m totally okay with that, but you might steal other people’s pieces of advice. So let’s see how we go. Let’s start with BJ D. Do you think you know as we as we come to the end of our time, here That you have something that everybody who’s going through this situation really should know.

Vijaya Panthagani 46:09
Well, you know, on a personal note, this is not about you. This is not about performance. This is something outside of your control in my control. And we are going to go through it together, and I’ll make it as comfortable for you as much as I can.

Charlotte Ward 46:36
Okay, yeah, very true. Very true. Okay. Kaylin.

Kaylin Bailey 46:44
Yes, I would say that. In the short term, the pain feels really, really bad, but give it time and most people end up on their feet and especially if you’ve got a community of people around you that are supporting you. Helping you get to the next step that with time it will get better and try to remember that in the short term when it feels really yucky. Yeah, yeah.

Charlotte Ward 47:11
And it’s difficult to make people feel that without resorting to cliches how do you how do you help people understand that?

Kaylin Bailey 47:23
I think the first step is what we talked about earlier is making sure they know that you care personally and then if they feel safe, having conversations right where you help support them in the short term and really, you’re the shoulder going to go whoa, hey, I’ve been through this and I’ve seen people go through this and here’s where you know 10 examples ended up and and we’re going to help get you there too. So doing it with with care not like a robot like oh, give it time. We don’t you know, we’re not going to worry about it because you’re going to be okay, just really caring and helping them get there with examples and being the personal

Charlotte Ward 47:58
touch. Yeah, Max, do you have a piece of advice?

Max Bauer 48:05
I do. And it’s pretty much exactly the same as vj said. So I’m going to do another one, I would like to give a piece of advice to any leader who has to manage through that. And that is what yourself, what’s your mental health? It’s more straining than you might think if you have not done it before, and most people neglect them because we do care. I don’t know any leader who doesn’t care about the people, even if they behave robotic. And they need to watch themselves. So, yeah, get people to help you get another, get another manager to listen to you ramble on or a family member, but definitely watch out for yourself feel or you turn out more quickly than you think.

Charlotte Ward 48:48
I think that’s really, really important. Yeah, we spend a lot of time thinking about how difficult it is for the people who are going and the people who are left behind but we never count ourselves as As part of the people who are left behind, and I think that’s where it really, really important advice. It’s, as we’ve said on this call it your day is never going to be as bad as the day of the people who you are letting go. But that bit of self care is really important and you are part of that team. So you should give yourself the same graces really that you would give. We would hope that you would give the rest of your team Absolutely. Greg

Greg Skirving 49:30
Yeah, just stay positive.

Charlotte Ward 49:33
Short’n’ sweet How do you do it? How do you stay positive

Greg Skirving 49:38
focus on focus on what’s going to happen focus on you know, making making the right decisions not dwelling on the past, move forward. And, and you you just reassuring that the person that they will end on their feet, they will get another job. It might even be a better situation for them. But stay positive focus focus on the future.

Charlotte Ward 50:06
Awesome. Yeah. Kimmie

Kimmie Sesnon 50:14
I know that everyone else is gonna hit the ones that I was gonna do. So mine is read the Four Agreements, the four agreements are, be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions and always do your best. And I have found that in times when I’m struggling in all areas, I go back to this. It makes me feel good and anything. You can be kind to yourself in times like this is the best.

Charlotte Ward 50:48
I have done. I’ve not come across the Four Agreements before. Can you give me those again? Yes. Oh my gosh. Greg’s holding Greg’s holding it up. Greg is holding up as we speak.

Kimmie Sesnon 50:59
It by Don Miguel Ruiz, and it is there. Listen. But, but it’s be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.

Charlotte Ward 51:16
That’s amazing. Thank you so much. And who knew that it was there on someone’s desk on this call? It’s a quick read it quickly, and it’s a very good one. Cool. I mean, I kind of want to ask, Do I need to read it now? Can we tell me them twice? But, but if it’s a very good one, I’ll seek it out. Thank you, boy, Matt.

Matt Dale 51:38
Yes, so I’m a big fan of what Max has said no taking care of yourself. I think scheduling your time such that you can talk to the people that need to be to be laid off. Talk to your team and take care of them and make sure you have some space to breathe and and go on a walk around the building. Do whatever you need to do to kind of get recenter because it’s going to be a very emotional process. Since I get like he already kind of took mine and I’m just agreeing with him. I’d also say that as you prepare for this, it’s really helpful for, for you to think about things and do some role playing is some that Caitlin and I have done in a couple of situations that we’ve worked together. And a couple of situations where we’ve dealt with layoffs going through and going, Hey, what’s, what’s the worst scenario? How can I imagine this going really badly? What would that be like? Okay, well, what would this be like and kind of talking through it, if the first time that you’re going through this HR script, for the first time that you’re doing this is right with that person live, you’re not going to be able to do it in a way that if you’ve practised a few times, and kind of go on through it, you’re not gonna be comfortable, like you need to be and you’re not gonna be present, like you need to be that person. So practising with with someone safe that’s already in the know, or someone that may even be in the room with you can be really helpful. And then and then kind of thinking about it afterwards. what went well, what can we do better next time, Lord willing, there won’t be a next time but I mean, let’s face it, we’re in we’re in business, and this happens. So how can I get better at doing this really hard thing that I don’t get a lot of practice.

Charlotte Ward 53:00
Yeah, yeah, that’s really true. And I think we shouldn’t underestimate the value of bringing our own experiences to, to this as people who have been, you know, either laid off before, or certainly seen teammates laid off before before we became leaders. I mean, I’ve been laid off three times. And you know, the first time was horrific. And it was horrific because of the way it was handled by leadership then second time was pretty good that time less great again, and I think, you know, on each occasion what whether it was handled well or not. we all we all know what parts of that made us uncomfortable, what cut parts of that were difficult. And it’s really just trying to figure out what you can extract from your own experiences and, and replicating those I mean, so much of leadership is like that anyway, but this is such a rare thing. We do. Do we have to kind of look around us and see how other people are handling it? Well that’s it for today. Go to customersupportleaders.com/53 for the show notes, and I’ll see you next time.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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