Layoff initiatives bring out the worse in almost everyone. Here’s a story of one of my clients, “John,” a leader whose style is to inspire and pump up the employees with octane attitude.
When John had to make the difficult decision to layoff several employees, he was met with fearful resentment. Even the employees who were staying blamed him personally for letting their friends go. He wasn’t aware when he began to lose patience and become irritated.
Making downsizing even more difficult
Leaders can be lonely during change initiatives but to react emotionally is to become a part of the problem (easier said than done). John has a big presence and just as he can bring everyone up, he can send signals of disappointment that bring everyone down.
One day I asked John how he thought his state of mind was impacting the situation. We talked about the ability to manage emotions and how they impact others—which is Emotional Intelligence.
- Notice your mood when it shifts. If you are reacting you are not performing at your best, and you cannot expect the rest of your team to be at their best.
- Manage your non-verbal communication and fight off the urge to roll your eyes, sigh or show anger. People are reading you 24/7.
- Establish a relationship with a coach or trusted advisor with whom you can unload and check your thinking.
- Reduce stress quickly through activities such as exercising, taking a friend to lunch, or simply stepping away from the office to gain perspective.
- Develop the ability to resolve conflicts quickly, on a positive note. Encourage people to admit mistakes and move on.
John has come a long way in developing the habit of noticing his emotional state. Recently he sent me this quote by poet William Stafford: “Sometimes the truth depends on a walk around the lake.“
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