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If the Shoe Fits: When a Layoff is Required

by Miki Saxon

A Friday series exploring Startups and the people who make them go. Read all If the Shoe Fits posts here

5726760809_bf0bf0f558_mThe need for a layoff can happen to any company of any age or size, but most companies and managers bumble the task and end up doing far more damage than necessary.

The damage is not just to those laid off, but also to those left behind, themselves and the company.

As most of you have read, Cheezburger Networker just laid off a third of its staff, but great credit goes to CEO Ben Huh for bending over backwards to do it with the least damage possible.

  • He cut his vacation short when he realized what had to be done, as opposed to delegating it and staying away until it was over.
  • He was honest, open and candid with his entire staff, thus avoiding the kind of rumors that typically circulate.
  • He did everything possible to ensure those laid off found new positions, including personally reaching out to other companies and setting up his own job fair.

In short, he did everything I recommended in 2008.

I only know of one manager who got his jollies laying people off (he always tried to do it just before Thanksgiving or Christmas) and he was, without doubt, a sadist.

Most managers, like Huh, find them to be tremendously emotional and not at all fun.

“Often, when faced with a problem, you want to run in the other direction. It’s like seeing a lion in the jungle. But I have to do what is best for the company, even if it sucks emotionally.”

There’s one more required action after a layoff and that’s dealing with the empty space, which can’t be ignored, but can be done positively without spending big bucks.

Image credit: HikingArtist

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