The Art of the Layoff

Guy Kawasaki on the art of the layoff. Layoffs are a part of life when you work for a donor-funded project. Funding typically tapers up and then tapers back down and staffing shifts accordingly. It hurts to work the end of a project, and watch all your colleagues leave. It’s lonely, and especially lonely if you’re the boss doing the layoffs.

Guy Kawasaki offers some great advice here on how to do layoffs well. He’s though this through in excellent detail, and I recommend the article to anyone who has to do staff cuts. Point #6, share the pain, is especially impressive to me. I had a boss refuse his annual raise because staff were being laid off, and it really made a difference to how people felt.

I do agree with his sole commenter, though. If it is a not-for-cause layoff, let people have a day or two more at work to say goodbye to their colleagues. I was fired once and the hardest part for the colleagues I left behind was having no idea what happened to me or why I was let go. One of them found my home number (this was back before cellphones) and tracked me down, just for closure. An NGO is unlikely to have much proprietary data to be stolen, and some staff members may want to do some handover.