Leadership Tips For Survivor Guilt

If you’re in the unfortunate place where you’ve had to let some folks go, be aware that the phrase “well, you’re lucky to have a job” will get you NO where.  Left unchecked, employees often suffer anger, guilt, anxiety, maybe even envy if someone got “a package”. Fail to address this and you could have a survivor epidemic on your hands.


Here are some practical steps:


  1. Let employees know that employee cutbacks were done as a last measure and why.

  2. Let employees know that everyone—including you--is having a difficult time with the transition.

  3. Deliver a very clear, visual message of what you see is the PURPOSE of the organization that remains regardless of the economy. (And the purpose is NOT to increase shareholder value.  What is the VALUE of the product or service of what the organization does?)

  4. Clearly outline a PLAN for moving forward, indicating exactly what senior leadership will be doing.  Employees need to have comfort that someone is guiding the ship.

  5. Relate what is the PART employees will play in the new world. Don’t be vague and mushy.  People need to know exactly where the fit and what is expected of them

  6. Open yourself to hearing what expectations employees have of you. Be candid about what you can and cannot do.

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