The announcement by Microsoft this week of massive layoffs brought to mind my own experience at Tektronix when it began paring employees, signaling the start of its downward drift as a major employer.
Laying off employees — whether it's one or thousands — is no fun. Communicating the layoffs is no fun either, but there are ways to make it less painful — for those losing their jobs and those staying.
Painful Lesson #1
Let employees and other internal stakeholders (key vendors, consultants, strategic partners) know about layoffs before the general public. Nobody likes to get the news about a layoff their could affect them in a newspaper.
There are always logistical, timing and legal considerations that go into how and when a layoff is announced. But here is the painful truth — there is always, always a negative, sometimes permanent reaction when the layoff announcement is made public before it is made personally.
Employees are not dumb. They know when layoffs are looming. They may even understand why they are necessary for the greater good of the company or organization. What they can't forget — or maybe forgive — is being the last to know.