Nobody likes layoffs, but sometimes they’re an inevitable part of doing business. So the real question we need to ask leaders when they happen is: Were they really inevitable?
You don’t have to look too far recently to see that in too many organizations the answer is an unequivocal NO. In too many of these scenarios, the layoffs could have been avoided altogether if the management team had been more disciplined in their expansion and hiring decisions.
About 11,000 people have lost their jobs in Meta. 3,700 on Twitter. 500 from Pelotone. 300 at Zillow. Soon 10,000 people at Amazon will join the ranks of the recently laid off. The list goes on.
I’m not here to criticize CEOs who try to boost their ratings – that’s part of the job. But another part of the job is seeing around corners and beyond spreadsheets and never lose sight of the people who workcreating products that contribute to their immense wealth.
If you’ve been fired, let’s start with the most essential part: it really, really, really sucks. I’m sorry for you and I’m sorry. I remind everyone I work with of the dangers of falling into the trap of thinking things are only happening to you, instead of continuing with the belief that you are going your own way. But layoffs are the big exception to the general rule: In this particular case, something happened to you that you had no agency over.
In this context, I recognize that it’s hard not to take this personally, but I urge you to remember *it’s not your fault*. . It’s the CEO’s fault, plain and simple. The investors who pushed them to conquer, grow, grow and spend are also complicit. To the employers who conduct layoffs, I hope you do so with a heavy heart, but also in a transparent, deliberate and compassionate way.
For employees recovering from a layoff, here’s where to start.
It is useful for employees shocked by layoffs, from the balcony, to remember that many companies (including ours) are hiring. You will find a new job and it will be great if you do. Here’s where to start:
Consider what gives you purpose.
Take a minute, a weekend or a few weeks if you can, to really contemplate what your future professional happiness might look like. Sure, money matters, but so does meaning. Is the work purposeful? Does it allow you to do what you do best every day? And to grow, stretch and learn new things that inspire you?
Consider your finances.
If a job checks all of the above boxes, ask yourself: Am I willing to trade at least some short-term economics for long-term meaning and growth? If so, you’ve just opened the door to new possibilities significantly.
Consider the hype.
Think carefully about the company you might join, and perhaps be a little more skeptical of outlandish claims and pointless advertising. How much confusion is there in the articulation of his mission and his plan? Does the leadership seem accountable and measured? Do your future colleagues seem inspired and rationally committed to long-term meaningful construction, or are they repeating insane claims like cult members?
I worked for someone many years ago who said to me, “Chavez, if you ever have a job where you only hate 30% of what you do, that’s a great job — you gotta hold on to it!” It’s almost a relief when you recognize that you’re unlikely to find a job where you 100% delight in what you do. So, you can stop wasting your energy trying to chase that windmill and instead focus on optimizing for a job you love 70% about.
Be deliberate, aim high, and be kind to yourself. In the meantime, I lie up. A layoff doesn’t define you or what you bring to the table — only you get to decide those things.