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Layoffs suck. Be less of a jerk.

Dear Entrepreneur,

We recently had to go through a small round of layoffs and some people in our team were let go.

Getting yourself in the position of having to layoff some people in your team is terrible.
You are basically telling the people, whom you got on board with promises of success, riches and dreams — that this is the end of the relationship.

Sure, it sucks for you to tell them this

But do you know whom it sucks even more for?
Your colleagues whom you just laid-off.
It comes as a complete surprise to them.
They weren’t planning on job-hunting today.
They weren’t planning on leaving you.
They knew they were your performers.
And which performer thinks it will be they who will be fired?

So, do me a favor, and be less of a jerk about it.

How can I be less of a jerk?

First things first, it is not about you. It is about them.
They need a new job. ASAP.
Hopefully, one that pays at least as much as the current one.
Hopefully, a secure one that will keep them professionally satisfied.

So here is what you can do:
You can be their guy. The one who works hardest to get them a new job.
Grovel if you need to, but get them their next job. ASAP.

Let go of your ego, of your insecurities, of your “it will work out” attitude.
It may work out, it may not work out.
It is your responsibility to make it happen.

I recently found myself in this position and was, like all of us, being a jerk about it.
“They are great people and will get a new job quickly” — is what I thought.
But I quickly tried to fix this flawed thinking.

Some ideas on solving this

Here is one thing that I did:
Reached out to people I knew in the industry (all of my competitors), VCs I had pitched to earlier, friends, other business people. Basically anyone whom I knew was running a company or could make a hiring decision.

Told them the truth and sold them on my people’s skills like I’d never sold before. After all, if I was happy with their performance, I should surely be able to convince others!

And they responded. Everyone was more than happy to call some of them in for interviews. Some of my contacts responded in under 2 minutes!

It just took me getting off my ass and sending that first email/WhatsApp message.

And this is important. As an entrepreneur and business owner, you have to recognize that you will have more/better contacts at the senior management level across other companies or startups. The kind of contacts your junior teammates may not have access to on their own.

Then, I followed it up with helping them update their resumes, introductory emails and cover letters. Improve the content, clarify points, spellcheck.

Put it all in a spreadsheet so they could track their progress. In fact, as far as I was concerned, they were still my team and this was the last task I had for them.

Spreadsheet shared with the team to track their job-hunt

 

Notice how potential employers were called Leads.
Lead status is updated as if it were a sales funnel.

This isn’t the end.

I’m going to try and make it part of my responsibility till each one of them has a new job.

This is still an ongoing process. My reason for writing this post is in itself a way to see if I can get more people interested in hiring some of my wonderful, professional and super-aggressive colleagues.

They all worked at my ecommerce marketplace in Bangalore and have previously also worked in other high-energy positions. They are looking at Bangalore-only openings.

People available for you to hire TODAY:

1) HR Manager + Recruiter
She handles all kinds of job requirements that we throw at her. Additionally, has upskilled herself to also manage the full HR function of our young startup and is basically the life of the office.
Recruited 29 people in 19 months using mostly free HR websites.

2) Telesales (Inside sales)
She is a calm, quiet professional who can negotiate with the highest discount-seeking customers and close sales super quick (usually within one or two calls)
One of the fastest to go from “trainee” to “hitting targets”

3) Logistics coordinator
He is a highly focused individual who can take shit from customers (for delayed deliveries), take shit from drivers (for lame excuses for delays) and all the while keeping his calm and ensuring customers are spoken to respectfully and professionally.

4) Website Designer
Quiet, calm type. Puts his head in his laptop, does not get distracted and just get shit done. Also can help with Photoshop designing (make some ads and brochures for us that we loved).

5) ASP.Net Developers
Worked on our in-house analytics software. Excellent with C#, VB.Net and MSSQL.

6) Delivery person
Super-reliable. Responsible not only for delivery but also for collecting cash (large amounts), cheques, etc. Never complains, always works with a smile.

7) Accounts data-entry person
Quick learner. Started off doing generic data entry Then taught himself Tally to the point where he can manage most data entry himself.

If you are interested in them, please fill this simple google form.

I hope they can all be placed quickly.
And then, only then, will I start working on what needs to be done so I never have to layoff anyone else ever again. It sucks more for them than for me.

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9 Comments

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed your article. Open and thought provoking. Let me also congratulate you for the effort and gyaan.
    In fact, I also feel that you also need to interact with also those who have left your start up / company or those whom you have let go.
    They will be useful as an !D€@ p00£ and always helpful to understand ourselves better. They are not going to talk about your warts when with you.
    All the Best man !

  2. This article is on point! Having been laid off multiple times in my career during company hardships, had my employers – any one of them – helped me secure my next position in the industry in which I was prominant, I would not have struggled as much. All I received was the affirmation by each, “You will land on your feet, you always do”. This ended up being demoralizing in the long run. I hope this article is seen by the right people. Keep up the good work!

  3. This article was better than I imagined and I’m impressed with your leadership skills. You’ve gone above and beyond for your employees even after being “laid off”, and more upper management should take note of this. I wish I could help, but I’m not in the area of your job seekers. I will forward this article on so others can take note of what upper management can be on even more levels.

  4. Love this article!!

    Exactly what I would expect someone in the position of laying off people should do. 8 wish this happened in companies I’ve worked at that laid people off.

    I was laid off about a month ago. After experiencing it, I had a lot of thoughts about the experience. I made the following video for those who would be feeling down after being laid off. Check it out:

    https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10156502676701702&id=514176701

  5. This was a wonderful article. We all need to take note and think about when life turns upside down for someone or even yourself – next steps.

  6. Impressive. Empathy can be in short supply when it comes to these very tough situations. Thanks for reminding us’

  7. Outstanding article. A lesson on keeping the human side in the forefront on the corporate environment.

  8. Humanity is alive in Corporate life ! This is an excellent initiative taken to safeguard the employees and I wish the leadership team will follow your footsteps…

  9. I was was laid off from Gm last week in the mass layoffs . I started making calls that day. You look back , just move forward. You’ll always keep those co workers as friends .. I did the spreadsheet also just to keep track of all the people and any job submittles ..

    PS. I am the “People Person” ALWAYS SMILE …

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