Almost every financially troubled company will face a layoff at some point. Knowing how to implement one with sensitivity to all employees (including those not part of the layoff) and with the needs of the business squarely in mind can best preserve the ability for future success.

Will Herman, an entrepreneur and former CEO of several successful companies, has a very interesting post on his 2-Speed blog entitled "How To Manage A Layoff."  In it, Will offers up nine key guidelines for effectively managing a layoff. Among his well-put suggestions:

  • Do it quickly — Nothing will drain the life out of an organization faster than mass fear of job loss.
  • Do it once — Not completing a layoff in one pass will kill the productivity of those who remain.  
  • Plan ahead — Decide how you’re going to handle the termination details – have any severance, benefits, insurance, outplacement service offerings or reference policy well documented ahead of time (can you afford any of these?). 
  • Communicate — Make it clear to everyone (those being laid off and those remaining) why it happened and what has been done or is being done to make sure it doesn’t t happen again.  Emphasize that the layoff as just witnessed is OVER and that no one else will be laid off because of the current situation (new situations may, of course, come up). 

Getting a layoff right can be a make-or-break event in a successful turnaround. Will’s range of business experience makes his post essential reading for anyone interested in this important, if unpleasant, topic.