What should leaders do to help their teams transition such shock?

Leadership Memo 2023-3

Many people around the world are in shock! Layoff was a US thing. Whenever things are tight, US companies would lay people off. That didn’t happen anywhere else in the world. Even the labor laws outside of the US ensure massive layoffs won’t happen… until now. Or rather, since the end of 2022 and it’s still continuing. I’ve heard so many executives and managers telling me the shock they have experienced, and the time they are taking to “calm the team down” while they themselves are still trying to process this.

At the same time, you would have thought this is “normal business” in the US. Not so for Gen Z and the young Millennials. In the last few years, the high-tech industry thrived while other industries struggled. So, they think the high-tech industry is invincible. This is a rude awakening to them.

So, what do we do after such a shock?

If you are a manager (at any level) who cares for your teams, here’re 5 things you should do:

  1. Take time to process the shock, alone and with your teams. There is no hurrying it. You also cannot stuff it down and carry on as if nothing happens. It would affect your mental health, job performance, and relationships.
  2. Take care of yourself and remind your team members to do likewise. Get enough sleep, eat well, and exercise.
  3. Create an environment that is safe, open, and transparent for your teams. Even if the rest of the company is not like that, you can create a pocket of safety. That allows your teams to be open and honest with each other and with you.
  4. Ruthlessly prioritize. Not just your own work, but your teams as well. That means everyone needs to understand the customers’ needs and what values they are providing the customers. Be realistic about what you and your teams can accomplish. When your teams tell you their limit, don’t push them to do more, especially during this time. Instead, be the shield for your teams to whomever pushes them to do more with less.
  5. Organize your teams around each customer value. That way, it’s easy to show the company what values your teams are providing. To accomplish this, you’ll need to work with other caring managers. It takes cross-functional capabilities to deliver customer value. This also makes the next layoff discussions easier: cutting team members or an entire team means stopping delivering that value. BTW, you (along with the other caring leaders) need to figure out how to enable the teams’ performance. The existing performance management process doesn’t work because it’s functional-based instead of value-based. You’ll also need to re-evaluate your incentive schemes. Make sure the team is incentivized to work together to deliver value to the customers. If the rest of the company doesn’t operate that way, then be the shield for your teams. “Translate” your new processes into the existing corporate processes for your teams.

p.s. If you are interested in exploring ways to process the shock, join our online, interactive workshop. There is a small fee, USD 10. If you want it waived, let me know below and it’ll be waived.

When: 16 March, 12:30 – 2pm Pacific time, 19:30 – 21:00 GMT | 17 March, 6:30 – 8am AEDT, 8:30 – 10am NZDT

Latest happenings:

I’m delighted to welcome Graham Scott, all the way from New Zealand to SFBABAM (San Francisco Bay Area Business Agility Meetup) in April. He’ll be talking about “Money Matters”. You don’t want to miss it! RSVP here!

When: 5 April at 5:30pm Pacific Time | 6 April at 00:30 GMT, 10:30am AEST, 12:30pm NZST.

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