Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Compassion for those left behind may help us lead.

It goes without saying that we feel compassion for individuals who are laid off as part of a downsizing. We understand how unsettling it must feel, even if we’ve never experienced it personally—the shock, the rejection, the financial fears and insecurities.

But what about those individuals left behind? We may naturally understand the pressure of increased responsibilities due to the redistribution of work—along with the feelings of insecurity that downsizing must generate. But are we as sensitive as we need to be about the emotional impact downsizing has on those left behind?

Someone recently shared his feelings with me about the experience. He said that the shock of the news, and the absence of  his colleagues at their desks and in the halls, felt similar to experiencing their deaths, as the realization set in that he probably wouldn’t be seeing most of these people again. He experienced guilt for his being able to stay on as others were let go. And the distraction of it all caused a slow down in production and efficiencies which began to wear on his confidence and his own perception of his value. 

I thought this example may help us acknowledge and remember that the significant emotional impact of downsizing—on those left behind—deserves our compassion and understanding in order to successfully lead those remaining through change.


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