Dear Aunty B,
I have just spent two days retrenching five staff and feel as low as I ever have in nine years of business. I keep feeling that if I had planned for this better, my staff would not be losing their jobs before Christmas.
One of them has just had a new baby!
The retrenchments, even though they were done according to the book, have had a bad impact on the rest of my staff, and I am finding it really hard to go to the office and rev everyone up when their colleagues are gone.
Should I plan a trip to Sydney and let some grieving happen without me, or should I be in the office?
Now look here. You have to stop beating yourself up. Who knew it was going to be this bad? The point is that you are making the hard decisions necessary for the business to continue and to provide jobs to the remaining staff.
Forget the trip to Sydney. You just want to escape. Instead go and book an appointment with a counsellor or coach, work through your guilt and gain the confidence and strategies you need to re-present the vision and future to your staff.
It is terribly hard to be the leader when you are feeling so low. So one of your main priorities is to look after your mental health with psychological support (a coach or a shrink) and physical support (a gym, lots of sleep, limit alcohol and ban long days.) Take walks at lunchtime, avoid destructive people and book in some activities that will lift your spirits.
As soon as you can, take your key staff away from the office and reassure them about their future at your company. Paint a clear picture of where the company is going and what needs to be achieved to get there – and show them how it will be done with fewer people. Your staff will bounce back if you lead the way.
Your Aunty B.