An organization just cut a staff position and the manager reported the news to the affected department as if he had no other responsibility beyond doing so. “They” made the budget cuts was how it was presented.

First, the role of a leader includes advocacy to ideally influence the decision in a different direction or to generate alternatives that could mitigate the impact on the unit. Could a position be moved to part-time or shared with another area? What about a furlough or temporary reduction of hours? Or how about a restructuring that would lessen the negative result for the whole? As I wrote about earlier this week (dot 3147) viewing a decision as all-or-nothing fails to recognize the benefits of compromise or trade-offs.

But assuming that all the options were explored and the position had to be eliminated, the manager still failed to fulfill his duty by presenting the decision without a plan about the implications. When there is a serious disruption, those remaining want to know what the impact is on them and how things will look going forward. This is not the time to go into a meeting with a blank slate, rather the leader needs to impart some calm and stability with at least an initial sketch of what it all means.

If you’re the supervisor and you are personally impacted by bad news, take a moment to do your grieving but get over it before you address the staff. They need from you strength, assurance, and a plan for how you will all get through this together. What “they” decided matters far less than what “we” are going to do about it.

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