Choosing whether to let someone go is one of the most difficult decisions a leader faces. The economic impacts of the pandemic make this decision even more challenging. Leaders need to consider the implications of affordability and economic sustainability. Can we afford to maintain current staffing levels, or do we need to make cuts to ensure longer term sustainability.
Many leadership decisions are based on rational judgment, but when people are involved, emotions become an important consideration. This further complicates decision making and it is no wonder many leaders tend to defer making a decision and wait. While this is natural, highly effective leaders recognize the need to be decisive and take action. Here are five key decision principles to consider when making the most difficult decisions.
Five Key Decision Principles
- Establish clear priorities and guiding principles. Many leaders are currently wrestling with decisions about reducing the size of their workforce. A guiding principle of ‘People First’ prioritizes people retention ahead of other competing goals such as profitability.
- There is no perfect decision. In school, we are taught there is a correct answer. In life, this is rarely the case. Some decisions turn out to be better than others but, in all cases, it is most important to learn and adapt. We learn by assessing whether the outcome is what we expected. IF it is not, we learn and adapt by trying something different.
- Understand what is being assessed when making the decision. This may seem obvious, but we often find leaders have conflicting views because they are talking about different things. Going back to the title of this article. Should I let this person go? Are we assessing this individual’s performance or are we assessing company viability and related staffing levels?
- Establish a decision process before it is needed. Many leaders make decisions on the fly, often relying on gut feel and intuition. This may feel good, but it rarely leads to the best results. Establishing a consistent decision process helps a leader and their team make better decisions by learning to focus on what is most important. We recommend establishing a decision process upfront when emotions are not running high.
- They communicate transparently and inclusively. While it is unwise to be 100% transparent, effective leaders share much more than they keep to themselves. They may not know the answers, but they share what they do and don’t know. Ken Tomita, CEO and Founder of Grovemade talks about this in episode #6 of the ‘Leadership Is No Accident’ podcast. Ken describes having to make a significant workforce reduction and deciding not to tell his team until the time of the cut to reduce their anxiety. When the cut came, many people on his team felt betrayed.
The Value Of A Different Perspective
When times are hard, decision making becomes even harder. Utilizing the principles above will help and ultimately each leader has to trust their judgment and take the leap. At times like these, having a trusted coach is invaluable. A good coach will not push you towards a specific answer, instead they will help you broaden your perspective and make the best decision possible. We help our clients make difficult decisions now more than ever.
To help you make the best decision possible, we are providing our Decision Template. Download your copy below.