Sometimes, there is no getting around hard conversations and tough decisions — especially in an economic crisis. Now more than ever, good leadership means facing these moments head-on.
Tech businesses everywhere are feeling the pressure of this global pandemic. Uber announced 3,000 layoffs and 45 office closures. Electric car startup Byton furloughed half of the employees at its North American headquarters, jeopardizing the planned launch of its M-Byte electric SUV later this year. Yelp laid off 17% of its workforce while furloughing another 18%.
When we face the biggest challenges, it’s tempting to duck and run. The prospect of cutting employees or giving up on your favorite projects is painful, and gut instinct is often to find the easiest way out with the fewest possible hard conversations and decisions.
Tough times shouldn’t cause you to avoid reality or make snap decisions, though. More than anything, these are the times when clear communication and straight talk are the most needed.
[Read: The key to compassionate leadership in the Zoom era]
Transparency must be a priority
Regardless of whether you’re facing fierce headwinds, transparency should be a core value that drives everything you do. This has always been part of the DNA at my company. In good times and bad, we strive to be an open book about company plans and cash positions.
In a downturn, you may not want to share bad news with your team. We’ve all got a little Michael Scott in us — the side that wants everyone to be blissfully ignorant and focus on being a happy work family all the time. Sharing about cash positions, layoff plans, or other organizational changes can seem like the worst possible option.
Layoffs, in particular, are truly hard — especially when you’re friends with the people who are affected outside of work and feel like they’re family. There’s no easy way to handle letting people go.
Instead of just putting your head down and making these tough calls on your own, though, consider how you can seize this opportunity. Rather than closing off and being less transparent, how can you open up even more? If you currently host monthly company meetings, now may be the time to shift to weekly or bi-weekly meetings to keep everyone informed and kee
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