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Not all leadership decisions feel good.  Having to lay off an employee that you care about purely because of economics or shutting down a division in your company resulting in the loss of competent staff. These are the circumstances in which strong leaders manage the people and the process with thoughtful attention, intention, and care.  How you communicate tough decisions will influence what your employees say about you and your organization to everyone they know. Their comments become your reputation.

Here are 5 actions to consider when having to make tough decisions that may negatively impact people:

  1. Document a clear communication plan that addresses those directly AND indirectly impacted. Consider how the news of the decision will cascade throughout the organization.
  2. Maintain strict confidentiality. Leaks will result in gossip which adversely affects moral.
  3. Anticipate and plan for questions that will arise. Distribute a Q&A to leaders at the appropriate time so they have the language to correctly communicate the change to their staff.
  4. Act with kindness and empathy, these two traits that go a long way in processing and adapting to change.
  5. Ask your impacted employee(s), “How can I help?” “How can I be of support?” The feelings that an employee walks out of your company having is just as important as how they felt walking in. 
  6. Don’t forget that the employees remaining are impacted as well. Ask yourself, what do you want them to say to their spouse, partner, best friend or child when they get home?  

 Successful leaders consider their thoughts, their emotions, and their gut instinct when making decisions. When the mind, the heart, and the gut are aligned, decision making is thoughtful, expansive, and on target. Take time to check in with yourself before you start calling the shots.

Sara Harvey

Founder & President, innertelligence

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