The best way to announce layoffs and other tough decisions so that you minimize backlash and maintain employee trust

Leadership Organizations Jul 6, 2020Layoffs are brutal. But the news is easier to accept from leaders who consistently display honesty, competency, and concern for their employees. Yevgenia NaybergLayoffs suck—for the person who is being laid off, but also for the person delivering the bad news. The decision to lay off employees can be even more…

The best way to announce layoffs and other tough decisions so that you minimize backlash and maintain employee trust

Leadership Organizations
Jul 6, 2020Layoffs are brutal. But the news is easier to accept from leaders who consistently display honesty, competency, and concern for their employees.
Yevgenia NaybergLayoffs suck—for the person who is being laid off, but also for the person delivering the bad news. The decision to lay off employees can be even more difficult for leaders who have established a trusting relationship with their employees—raising the uncomfortable question of whether building trust with employees is actually a liability during challenging times.In our work with companies, however, we have found the opposite to be true: that trust is an asset even when delivering the bad news to employees. We have seen that when leaders have invested in building a trusted relationship with their employees, the loyalty engendered makes it easier for employees to accept tough workforce decisions.Why is this the case? And how can you as a leaders make sure that, even when you have to lay off valued team members, you do so in a way that preserves as much trust as possible—both with the employees who will be leaving and with the rest of the team? The key is to keep in mind decades of research demonstrating that genuine trust is built on three cornerstones: benevolence, or a genuine concern for the fair treatment and well-being of others; honesty, or a commitment to telling the truth and keeping promises; and competence, or a knowledge of what skills are required to do the job and the ability to meet or exceed expectations for those skills.Benevolence in a CrisisMany managers understand very well that benevolence is an important foundation for trust. But some mistakenly believe that delivering bad news automatically undermines that benevolence. The truth is, you can minimize backlash if you show that you have come to the decision after a genuine and fair-minded consideration of its impact. Which is where the other two cornerstones of trust—honesty and competence—come in. If you have developed a reputation for trustworthiness, employ
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