Build your brand: Letting someone go

Fired No one likes to let an employee go.  Whether it is firing someone for cause or being forced to let a good employee go because of downsizing — it stinks.  It’s a "keep you up all night worrying" sort of event.  Because it is so awkward and difficult — most people do it badly.  They rush it or talk for too long or just don’t manage the situation well.

Every single thing your organization does or doesn’t do impacts your brand.  But, the more emotionally charged the moment/event — the greater potential it has to color the brand.  The more "talkable" the moment — the great potential it has to color your brand.

So letting someone go is ripe for brand building or brand break down.  If you think that your employees will not dissect every word, you’re crazy.

When is the time to plan (yes….plan) how you want an employee dismissal or layoff to go is when you don’t have one pending.  Do a little creativity exercise.  If you think about your brand’s attributes and promise — how, staying within that space, would the event happen?

If you were absolutely true to your brand:

  • When (day of the week, time of day) would you let someone go?
  • Where (does it have to happen in the office?)
  • What would you give the leaving employee?  (Documents, phone numbers they’ll need, etc)
  • How will you end the conversation?  (hug, high five, solemn look, handshake, nothing?)
  • What part of the conversation will the employee repeat?
  • How will you handle the news with the employees who are staying?

This just scratches the surface.  My point to you is this:  How you handle this situation WILL  reflect on your brand.  Far better to be purposeful about it, don’t you thin

Guy Kawasaki wrote a great post a couple years ago about how to handle a layoff.  Well worth the read.

So let’s talk about this.  Share a story of how you either managed this uncomfortable situation or what it felt like to be on the receiving end.  I’ll bet we can find some branding wisdom among the stories.

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