How do I announce the gutting of their team?  There are 30 people in my org, based on new realities, and greatly improved productivity, seven 7 people need to be let go.

Do I share the general news to the team as a group, then individually speak to each team member?  Do I speak to each affected team member first, then to the group on the next day?  The people selected are on three shifts so I worry about the timing.

The team has worked hard and improved productivity drastically in anticipation of increased customer demand.  Ironically, customer demand has began dropping and our target market seems to be facing a slowdown.  And we are in negotiations for a possible sale away from our corporate parent to one of our larger customers.  All this has converged and now I need to make drastic changes.  I am making a severe cut because I only want to do this one time.  

I will be honest and compassionate about this terrible situation.  What guidance can you provide me so I don't screw it up?  

Thank you for your help. 


Kevin1's picture


Hi Jason,

Tough situation.  I don't envy you at all. Try this cast for the best advice I've seen

Kind regards



Jason Slavik's picture


Thanks for responding.  Yes, I've listened to that cast again and have added a couple of procedures because of it.  What I'm most unsure of is; how to roll it out.  Once I meet with the first person, each person I ask to come to my office will know exactly what is going to happen.  Is that okay?  I want to limit the amount of fear for everyone. 

Doris_O's picture

I've seen it done three different ways:

1. Each person was called into the office and told individually if they were laid off or not.

2. Only the people being laid off were called individually to a meeting in a different building and told they were being laid off. The manager then had a team meeting with the remaining staff.

3. An entire department was laid off and told as a group. A few members of the department who had already resigned on their own were present. Some people felt that it was inappropriate that everyone was told as a group and were a bit angry about it. In this situation I think it probably reduced anxiety because no one was left guessing where they stood.

I really could not say that any one method was better than the others. In all cases people knew it was coming, they just did not know who would be impacted. I think the main issue is to not let any one or two individuals be left not knowing if they had a job or not.

donm's picture
Training Badge

In the early 1990s, I was the bearer of layoff news. I told myself that if I were ever asked to lay off people again, I would submit only one name on the "to be laid off" list: Mine.

This is especially true if the layoffs are done solely or mostly to cut payroll without any need other than to make the company look better for the buyer, on paper. I'd rather be out of a job and looking than to ever go through the hatchet job again.

a011839's picture

I just recently had to deliver the news to a new member of my team that we were eliminating their position. 

My advice --

1.   Be prepared and don't rush it, this will be traumatic for them they will remember your words for a long time. 

2.  Talk to any impacted people first, give the effected people a chance to process the news

3.  Work with them to the degree possible in your organization to communicate to the team and broader organization.  (In my case, the person will continue in their role for 4 weeks before the job ends)

This is tough stuff but sometimes a forced move results in something better than they had imagined.

Good luck!


mrreliable's picture

It's a tough call to decide whether to meet with the indivduals one on one or as a group to eliminate the bad news coming through the grapevine. I don't know what I'd do in that case.

I would just say that whatever decision you make, don't choose a path that drags the process out any longer than absolutely necessary. I've always followed the procedure of letting affected individuals know their employment was terminated as soon as feasible after the decision was finalized. I know there are philosophies that say not to fire someone at the end of the week since they'd have all weekend to get depressed about it, but I'd still rather let someone know ASAP. I've seen managers try to let employees down easy, and I see that as a bit of unnecessary pain. I look at it thinking about how I would want the news, and I would want it as soon as humaly possible if I was the one who was let go.

I was up close to a situation where a decision was made to terminate an employee, but it wasn't done immediately. It got ugly. I was managing a retail store, and I got a call from a store in another town saying one of their employees was on their way to my store to replace John Doe. I wasn't aware of this, and my role didn't include hiring and firing. I was honest with John Doe, and told him what I'd been told. The other employee showed up, confirming something real was going on. Then an hour later the DM rolled in and fired the employee. It was not a pretty sight, and I'd say the DM probably deserved the tirade he got.

We've had to terminate several employees along the way. I was one of a two-person management team that did most of the deeds. The other person was senior in terms of administration, but he was a marketing guy and would start going down the road of dragging it out and trying to let the person down slowly and easily, like after a while everybody knew what was coming. I finally started butting in saying, "We have some bad news," etc., getting straight to the point. If it was me, that's what I'd want. Now I perform these difficult tasks myself, and although it 's the hardest part of my job, I'm confident I do it in the least bad way possible. I don't beat around the bush.

There's also the aspect of allowing the person to get on with their new life as quickly as possible. If you delay things trying to strategize or minimize the pain, if things drag out at all, there's always the possibility the person will miss new opportunities. Rip off the bandaid.

There have been very few things in my life that make me lose sleep, but knowing I have to terminate someone is one of them. It's the most unpleasant thing I can think of. I imagine myself telling them, "Go home and tell your family you got fired." The day I stop hurting when I have to let someone go is that day I'll stop performing that function. As awful as it is, somebody has to do it sometimes, and we have several former employees who soon found excellent positions that better suited them, they're happier, and making more money. We're still on good terms with almost all the people we've had to terminate. I attribute that to being direct, honest, and professional.








Jason Slavik's picture

Thank you all for your input.  I have received great news.  The layoffs are cancelled.  I sure am glad I followed the guidance to keep it confidential.  No one below me knew what was about to happen.

Senior management had a change of heart and wants to create a few new positions in another department and believes the remainder will be utilized as we take on a new order the salesman closed.




stenya's picture
Licensee BadgeTraining Badge

Nothing feels so good as being shot at and missed. :-) Glad that you don't have to eliminate the positions, and that you didn't jump the gun with the bad news!


drken's picture

 I hear what MrReliable and DonM are both saying, and I'd like to offer this. Whenever I take over a new team and I spot people who may one day have struggles due to job loss -- even if no such loss is on the horizon -- I usually advise them to start planning now: getting a CV ready, making sure they have good contacts, etc. It can happen to anyone at any time, and to me it's just part of ensuring I've done my best for their well-being. And it makes my job -- or my conscience -- a bit easier/cleaner if that day comes.