When Teams Shrink

Coping with Layoffs, and Moving On

"Downsizing" can be tough for those who remain too.

© iStockphoto/Peepo

You breathe a big sigh of relief. Your company has just gone through a heavy round of layoffs, and you're one of the lucky ones. You still have a job.

Many of your co-workers, however, don't. You and the other survivors watch sadly as they clean out their offices, and walk slowly out of the building, carrying boxes of personal possessions.

Now, the rest of you are experiencing a range of emotions ranging from guilt to relief, anger, and depression. And most of you are anxious and worried – after all, how do you know you won't be next?

If you've had to watch team members lose their jobs, then you know how hard it can be. But coping, and succeeding, in the aftermath can be difficult. There are several impacts, both practical and emotional, that can result from company layoffs.

In this article, we'll look at what you can expect to experience when members of your team lose their jobs. And we'll show you how to handle the ups and downs of dealing with a reduced team – including the loss of knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs).

The Practical Impact of Layoffs

When co-workers are laid off, the obvious question is, who's going to do all of their work? Of course, the things they did may no longer be needed – the work may have been automated, or a slump in sales may mean that there is less customer service work to be done. In situations where work is shared by a team – such as a pool of legal secretaries in a law office – there may be as much to do as ever. But do those who are left have the KSAs, and the capacity, to do the work that needs to be done?

Getting yourself, and your team, trained and ready to take on new responsibilities can definitely be challenging, especially as your people are probably not going to be paid extra for it.

If you're a team leader, you will need to

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