Lesson #3: Leading Through Change
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Leading Through Change
This year alone, over 135,000 employees in tech have been laid off – and those are only the companies that are being tracked by Layoffs.fyi. There are so many smaller companies falling under the radar (as well as larger companies intentionally keeping their layoffs out of the news cycle), so this number is most likely much larger.
If you’re a leader on a team – whether in an official capacity (as a manager or above) or seen as a thought leader and mentor for others on your team, navigating this change is especially complex. Your team is adjusting to a likely larger workload with reduced resources, team members may have been moved around, and even if your own team has been kept intact (so far), any departure from the company – especially larger ones – can be felt like ripple effects throughout the entire organization.
Morale is impacted at several points during a change in a company’s headcount: speculation leading up to layoffs, during the layoffs (survivor’s guilt is a real feeling here), and after the dust has settled and remaining employees are working to redefine what it means to be a part of a smaller team.
As a leader, you likely feel a degree of responsibility to help your team and the greater organization move forward. You want the best for your team, both from a work efficiency standpoint and an emotional, cultural standpoint. Every team is different, but there are several actions you can take immediately:
Just be there and listen. Set time aside for additional 1:1 conversations. Let your team unload and process what this means for them. Don’t jump to offer advice unless you’re asked. Now is not the time to be the giver of advice.
Don’t make promises. You don’t have control over the future of the company. You can only speak of what’s within your control.
Help your team adjust to a change in resource allocation. Sometimes employees get cut but the expectations remain the same. Help your team navigate this, and continue to push for a more realistic roadmap based on the team’s new capacity. This is an excellent opportunity to manage up and advocate for your team with other areas of the company.
Write LinkedIn recommendations for your team. These recommendations are incredibly useful for those who are now on the job hunt, as well as those who may still be at the company but don’t know what their future holds.
Leading through change is often one of the most difficult experiences for a leader, but just like your team, all you can do is take it one day at a time - one step at a time.
What I’m reading
I’m about halfway through The Coaching Habit and I’m really enjoying it so far! It’s a really quick read (I started it yesterday, for context) but it’s packed with actionable advice for becoming a better coach to your team.
Check out the full book list for recommendations and an ever-growing reading list.
Note: Links to books in this section are affiliate links to help support the purchase of the rest of my books :)
What I’m working on
Last week I spoke with my boss about how I felt I was starting to let things slip through the cracks. I know I have a lot on my plate and I’m doing the best I can, but I’m a recovering perfectionist who’s learning to be okay with “good enough.”
If I’m telling my team that it’s okay to let things sit and simmer for a minute, I should be taking my own advice as well. (We all know how that usually goes.) Times like this always make me want to re-read Essentialism.
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