Making layoffs suck less: How to announce job cuts and retain top performers

Leslie Crowe is expertise associate at Bain Capital Ventures, the place she offers strategic counsel to the agency’s portfolio corporations on scaling efficiently.

There is no such thing as a approach to sugarcoat it: For a lot of founders, 2022 was a tricky yr to be a boss, and 2023 just isn’t shaping up to be any simpler. The tech business layoffs might have slowed, however they haven’t abated and there will definitely be extra to come.

Workers reductions have grow to be commonplace, however that doesn’t make reducing jobs any simpler; particularly if you happen to’re the founding father of a startup. In fact, all job cuts are tough, however at a startup, they’ll really feel private. Founders are shedding individuals who have helped them construct the corporate from scratch; the individuals who assembled IKEA furnishings within the first workplace and who pulled late nights and lengthy weekends. Layoffs at a startup can fracture the motivation and belief of those that stay.

Over the previous 15 years, I’ve had to preside over layoffs at earlier jobs, and I’ve additionally labored with some founders prior to now yr who’ve had to let staff members go. There is no such thing as a good approach to deal with such conditions, however I’ve discovered a couple of issues that is perhaps useful for founders going through potential layoffs.


Letting individuals go won’t ever really feel good, however with some thought and planning, founders can handle the method properly and come out the opposite facet stronger.

Earlier than the layoffs

When layoffs are essential, it will be important to handle the state of affairs with compassion and readability. You need to deal with every job loss with the empathy it deserves. Listed here are 4 methods to think about:

Don’t delegate totally

Sure, your head of individuals might be your key wing particular person, however it’s best to by no means dump the layoff course of on others. You’re the founder, so that you personal the method and the end result. Care in regards to the particulars, work intently along with your staff, and if the corporate is sufficiently small, have the powerful conversations your self.

This will really feel like one of many worst moments in your organization’s trajectory, however your staff will respect you whenever you take accountability for overhiring or any missteps that led to this level.

When staff hear they’ve misplaced their jobs from a CEO or one other revered chief, they depart feeling valued. Additionally, bear in mind to make one deep spherical of layoffs as a substitute of a number of over many months. A gradual, repeated course of saps morale and makes everybody really feel unsafe.

Don’t do mass layoffs on Zoom

This concept all the time sounds good on paper. It’s environment friendly!

It’s additionally one of many worst methods to announce dangerous information. Nobody desires to study they’ve been laid off in entrance of their co-workers and be pressured to react to the information in actual time. That stated, generally group notifications are required given the scale of the staff impacted.

Think about when you’ve got the capability to deal with the layoffs with one-to-one conversations — it’s the best choice. If that isn’t possible, you need to use Zoom or ship an e-mail first. However it’s best to nonetheless comply with up one-to-one if you happen to can.

You want to do what’s proper for your corporation, however don’t lose sight of the facility of a private dialog for exhibiting the individuals you’re letting go that you simply respect them. They’re going to stroll out the door and inform their mates what working at your organization is like. Make that final impression the perfect it may well probably be.

Create a communication plan

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