3 Reasons Not to Botch Breaking Up

3 Reasons Not to Botch Breaking Up

We’ve watched in disbelief as unemployment spikes to record highs – with over 20.5 million jobs lost in April. In addition, there are many more with reduced hours or cut pay not represented in unemployment figures.

Suffice it to say, a lot of breakup conversations are being had.

By now we’ve all read about some very public horror stories, and presumably organizations are getting smarter about the “how” to tell someone goodbye. Or, maybe not.

One of the most promising things I’ve seen related to layoffs is the letter from Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky. It’s worth the 5-minute read here.

I truly believe most rational adults understand the “why” their companies must enact cost-cutting measures in the form of RIFs. The game changer is when companies understand the importance of not botching these breakups.

3 Reasons to Consider:

Hi-Po’s Aren’t Dumb – Here’s the deal. Your high-potential and critical talent is watching your every move. Hopefully, some of you are pulling them into the virtual war room and involving them in how to manage a crisis, make tough decisions and communicate appropriately. Regardless, how their co-workers are treated on the way out is either an incredible retention tool, or they are already networking with your competitors.

Transparency is the New Work-Life Balance – Ahhh…the good ol’ days when promoting work-life balance was at the forefront of your employment branding campaign. Now, it’s not as sexy as most have made strides at “balance” with work-from-home mandates. Will a grinding commute ever be tolerated again? I think not. Enter, transparency. The hot, “must have” for engaging, attracting and retaining talent. Chesky was brilliant with his display of transparency. It was even bulleted:

  • Map all reductions to our future business strategy and the capabilities we will need.
  • Do as much as we can for those impacted.
  • Be unwavering in our commitment to diversity.*
  • Optimize for 1:1 communication for those impacted.
  • Wait to communicate any decisions until all details are landed – transparency of only partial information can make matters worse.

*No white guy at Airbnb was surprised to be on this list.

All PR is NOT Good PR – I don’t care if you’re public, private or a mom & pop shop. The “how” you handled letting people go will be known – at the company level and individual leader level. We don’t need water coolers to have those conversations. Your team has nifty collaboration tools, texts, and oh yeah, this sweet invention called social media.

Like it or not, your breakup song will be your new recruitment ad.

How you treat people, compensate them, care for their health and well-being, handle exit communication and help them post-employment matters. Airbnb has given you the script, including their impressive Air Alumni List.

For those of you who did experience a botched breakup, take strength from one of the best post-breakup songs by Destiny’s Child: “Now that you’re out of my life, I’m so much better / You thought that I’d be weak without you, but I’m stronger / You thought that I’d be broke without you, but I’m richer / You thought that I’d be sad without you, I laugh harder.”

And repeat. You are a survivor.

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