Improving Workplace Culture with Positive Power

positive power workplace

Being Positive

Over the holidays, my family and I went to see A Christmas Carol. We got to sit up close, and it was such a fun experience. During the performance, Scrooge has a monologue with the ghost of Christmas past, who has taken him back to a time with his old boss, Fezziwig, whom he apprenticed under in his early days. The ghost goes on to show Scrooge their interactions and how pleasant of a cultural environment they worked in. He realizes at this point of the story that Fezziwig didn’t have to make his work life delightful, but he chose to. Which ultimately made him enjoy the work he did and brought him happiness.

This is the positive power concept. The choices that we make as leaders and the impression that we leave on our people, how they remember us, really makes all the difference. How they see us at work and how they see us show up is what they’re going to take to heart. So when Fezziwig took Scrooge back to the past, he was showing him that he had the ability, the power, to control and change the environment for his people.

That is what caring leadership is all about. Leaders set the mark. You build that framework of caring leadership by your example. If you come in for the day with a good mindset, that will reflect on your team. If you start your day well and take the time to fill yourself up, you can pour yourself into other people. On the other hand, if you start the morning off with negativity, that will trickle down and affect everyone throughout the day. YOU hold the power to make the difference.

Always involve your heart in your decisions. If you are measured by the impact you have on the bottom line, it is easy to lose sight of what is best for your people, particularly when you are under pressure to perform. Just remember that your success has been driven in large part by the people who work for you. Don’t forget or minimize their contributions by treating them like a number.

Do your best to eliminate negativity by not always focusing on wrongdoings. Instead, recognize individuals and your team by celebrating their wins. By making sure the environment you are creating is a safe space, people will be comfortable being themselves and be more willing to take calculated risks. Create an environment that is cultivating and not crushing. That’s what positive power really is.

204: Leaders with Heart Connect People

jane grote abell podcast connect
Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather sits down with Jane Grote Abell, the Chairwoman of the Board of Donatos Pizza. Over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions at both Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, including Chief Executive Officer. Her father, ​​Jim Grote, and their family built Donatos into a successful pizza chain, then sold it to McDonald’s. After seeing it struggle under McDonald’s, Jane convinced her family to buy the family business back. Since then, Jane and her family have dedicated both time and money to the chain restaurant’s home city of Columbus, Ohio. Jane has been named various titles, such as the YWCA Columbus Academy of Women of Achievement, CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO Magazine, and a Top 24 Women in Franchising by Franchise Update Magazine. Take a listen.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Connecting with people is the truest form of leadership
  • Their company was sold to McDonald’s and then bought back when it was struggling
  • Leadership is a choice
  • Giving back to your community is essential
  • Giving back doesn’t always have to be about money
  • Sometimes it’s best to keep the business within the family

A founding family member of Donatos Pizza, Jane Grote Abell currently holds the title of Chairwoman of the Board. Over the last four decades, Jane has held a variety of positions at both Donatos Pizza and Jane’s Dough Foods, including Chief Executive Officer. 

In 2003, Jane was a major catalyst behind the decision to purchase Donatos back from McDonald’s. Following the buy back, Jane led the company through a $10.5 million turnaround. 

Since taking over as Chairwoman of the Board in 2010, Jane has had time to focus on work outside of Donatos.

Because her roots trace back to the first store on Thurman Avenue on Columbus’ south side, she and her family remain committed to the area’s success. Evidence of this was the nearly $2 million donation that the Grote family contributed to help a city plan to revive the South Parsons Corridor. She has been an advocate for this project from its inception in 2012 and, along with Tanny Crane, co-founded the Reeb Avenue Center, a social-services center housing 14 non-profits that focus on education and workforce development and South Side Roots Café and Market, a pay-it-forward café and affordable fresh foods market.

Jane is a founding member of the Ross Leadership Institute and serves as a member of the Columbus Partnership and the Otterbein Women’s Leadership Advisory Council. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Reeb Avenue Center, Action for Children, Experience Columbus and I Know I Can. 

Jane has received a number of awards and recognitions. In the last 5-years alone, she was named to the YWCA Columbus Academy of Women of Achievement, CEO of the Year by Columbus CEO Magazine and a Top 24 Women in Franchising by Franchise Update Magazine.

Toxic Charity

If you haven’t read the book, Toxic Charity, you should. I think a lot of us go into less fortunate neighborhoods and assume what they need, and that can be really toxic. Instead of helping, we are actually harming the communities. That’s why one of the things I learned about leadership is to hire people smarter than yourself. That’s what I did, and we put together an amazing team and distributed surveys to get to the bottom of what these people truly needed or wanted. That’s a much more efficient way of doing things, instead of guessing what they need. We distributed those surveys to 2,700 homes and the results were shocking. 

jane grote abell connect

203: Leaders with Heart Write Out a Plan

write out a plan
Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather talks with her listeners about an encounter she recently had with her son about his future. He was telling her how much he wanted to be a soccer player, but Heather points out that he isn’t really putting in the work he should be. Heather reminds him that people who want to reach their goals must put in the work and write out a plan. Hear her four steps for achieving your goals in 2022. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • It’s a lot easier to make excuses than to put in the work necessary 
  • In order to achieve your goals, you must write out a plan
  • Be ready to fail 
  • When you fail, make sure to get back up 
  • Break large goals into smaller ones

Heather R Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. 

Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action. 

Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees on their journey to Caring Leadership. 

Four Simple Steps

  1. Plot Out Baby Steps You Can Take Everyday
  2. Do a Daily Examination
  3. Give Yourself Time and Recalibrate 
  4. Commit to Having an Accountability Partner or Coach

We don’t have to get to our goals by ourselves. Check with HR to see if there are funds for a coach, or invest in yourself and hire that coach that can take you to the next level. Do all this with grace and don’t forget to take care of yourself. Practice self-care and give yourself time to achieve these goals. 

heather r younger podcast

What Excuses Are You Making in 2022?


“I want to move forward in my career, but I’m too unsure to ask for a promotion.”

Or “I want to be a better manager, but it’s hard to change my ways and make people feel heard.”

How about “I want to lose weight, but I’m not willing to give up junk food.”

Less excuses, more reasons.

I was in the car with my kiddo recently, talking about goals for 2022. He talked about how he wanted to become a better soccer player but kept giving me excuses about the ways he would accomplish that. Which made me think, what excuses are we constantly making to ourselves? What reasons do we ignore? Reasons to be successful, reasons to stay motivated. Excuses are human nature when we really don’t want to do something, right? We’ve all made them! But we commonly make those excuses out of fear of failure. So how can you make a commitment to both yourself and others that you WILL accomplish the goals you set for yourself in 2022?

The Breakdown

The best way of accomplishing any goal is to break it down into smaller goals. Really give yourself the opportunity to understand how you want to reach your end goal. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What steps do I have to take to accomplish my goal(s)?
  • How can I hold myself accountable?
  • What can I do to move me closer to my goal?
  • How can I track my progress?

Begin by plotting out tiny baby steps goals of where you want to be. Create a list and check it off one by one as you go. That visual of accomplishment will fuel you to keep going. Afterwards, check in with yourself. Do an examination daily or on the weekends about how you’re moving along. How did the week go overall? Could anything have gone better? Are you moving forward or falling behind – did you make any excuses to put something off? Set aside some time to analyze your progress and see if you have any areas you’re struggling with.

Once you’ve checked in with yourself, recalibrate your own expectations. You may need to take a step back or increase your productivity to move forward. This would be a good time to have a coach or accountability partner along for the ride. Sometimes we battle within ourselves to keep going, or maybe we just need a second pair of eyes. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Successful goal setting and accomplishment is a team effort!

Most importantly, don’t forget to dig deep and give yourself grace and self-care in between the moments where you may be struggling. Sometimes we do just need to hit pause and reboot. 

Lastly, surround your goals with emotional support and encouragement. Give yourself daily affirmations, both personal and goal-related. 

  • I CAN do this.
  • We can have a kinder, more enlightened world.
  • I am strong.
  • We can treat each other with respect and dignity without losing any of ourselves.
  • I am capable.
  • Every person has a right to pursue a life that harms no one else on their own terms.
  • I am successful.
  • People are the bottom line, not money.
  • I can achieve anything I set my mind to.
  • There is no shortage of resources. There’s only a shortage of sharing.

We can all have a better life. We can all excel. Let’s kick those excuses to the curb. Here’s to 2022!

202: Leaders with Heart Move Forward

Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather talks directly with her listeners about what 2021 brought for her and her business. From turning 50, to sending her first child off to college, to all the accomplishments and challenges she faced in 2021 – she sits down to reflect and share her thoughts. Plus, she shares a bit of what is to come in 2022 for caring leadership. Take a listen. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • There is a lot to learn from 2021
  • Take some time to reflect on what you learned in 2021
  • Adversity leads to growth
  • Plan your goals for 2022
  • We learn the most from our biggest challenges
  • Not everything is what it seems online, take time to focus on yourself and your mental health

Heather R Younger is an experienced keynote speaker, two-time author, and the CEO and Founder of Employee Fanatix, a leading employee engagement, leadership development, and DEI consulting firm, where she is on a mission to help leaders understand the power they possess to ensure people feel valued at work. 

Known as The Employee WhispererTM, Heather harnesses humor, warmth, and an instant relatability to engage and uplift audiences and inspire them into action. 

Rooted in her belief that employees aren’t just numbers on the payroll but human beings with ideas that matter, Heather’s talks and workshops are dedicated to helping teams, leaders, and organizations shine by improving how they listen to, communicate with, and empower employees on their journey to Caring Leadership. 

From 2019 to 2022

I think we all feel like we skipped from 2019 to 2022. It really went by so, so, so fast that it seems like a blur. Yet, I hope we don’t fully forget everything that has happened. Actually, I’m hoping we remember each step. That’s because I believe it’ll make us that much better in the following years. What we experienced in the last few years was tough. But what comes from adversity and tough times are the greatest diamonds. So, let’s not forget. Instead, let’s remember each part and take the good of it all with us into 2022.

Embrace the Magical Power of Empathy in the New Year

magical power of empathy

Imagine you are transported to a place where you have never been before, accessing emotions that another person feels and with the ability to heal them and all while having the ability to return home when you choose.

That’s the magical power of empathy. Empathy is the ability to step into the shoes of another to sense their pain or struggle.

An Empathy Epiphany

My family and I just returned from a road trip to Arizona over the New Year’s holiday. As we do every Sunday, we attended Mass. The church was beautiful, and the traditions were unique. But, as I sat and listened to the pastor go over the readings and then his sermon, I had an epiphany!

The pastor shared that he had been trying to console the parishioners for the last couple of years regarding COVID and the damage it creates. Loved ones were sick. Some even passed away. He tried his best to be there for them. Then, he got COVID 19 and was so ill that he was in the hospital for five days. He felt alone, scared, exhausted, and unsure. As he laid in the hospital bed, he began to think a lot about his parishioners.

Thankfully, he was released from the hospital and was better. He admitted that now he finds it much easier to empathize with those around him as they go to him and expect a compassionate reaction. He prays harder. He is more present with them. But, most importantly, he now understands their pain.

As I sat there listening to him, I recalled when team members would come to me with some issue inside or outside of work. I did not necessarily have the same or even similar experience as they did, but I committed to leaning into their circumstance and releasing my filter or past. I wanted to truly understand what they were going through and what they needed from me or others. I did learn to protect myself while doing so, because otherwise empathy and compassion fatigue would kick in.

That priest made me realize the magical power of empathy if done right. If we commit to fully leaning in without our preconceptions. Without our baggage, without our personal frame of the other person’s situation, we can become like wizards, transporting ourselves from our world to their world without having to live in their world physically. This is a powerful concept that I know can be seen as philosophical or metaphysical.

The Next Steps

As Caring Leaders, though, we must take this concept and make it real in the lives of those who look to us for guidance and leadership. We don’t physically need to “be in the hospital” with those we lead. We just need to have a desire and a willingness to step fully and deeply into their shoes to truly understand their plight. I know I am asking a lot, but I believe we can get there. We only need a pretend wand, a desire to transport, and a heart that is focused on others. See you on the other side of empathy!

201: Leaders with Heart Ask the Right Questions

questions misty guinn leadership with heart
Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:


In this episode, Heather sits down with Misty Guinn, Director of Customer Advocacy at Benefitfocus, a data-driven, cloud-based software solutions for health care and benefits administration. Their mission is to improve lives with benefits that focus on people and culture. Misty believes that leaders can learn exactly what their people need by asking the right questions. After all, it all starts with listening. During her interview with Heather, Misty talks about her leadership journey, why she describes herself as a “recovering perfectionist,” and more. 

Key Takeaways: 

  • Her motivation to lead comes from the desire to help people become the best versions of themselves
  • Becoming a mother and becoming more vulnerable made her a better leader
  • Perfection is not real and it’s not authentic
  • Asking your people the right questions can make a world of a difference
  • Surface level questions will lead to surface level results
  • Benefitfocus is a data-driven, cloud-based software solutions program for health care and benefits administration
I'm a recovering perfectionist. – Misty Guinn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet
Our mission is to improve lives with benefits. – Misty Guinn #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Misty Guinn is the director of customer advocacy at Benefitfocus, where she works closely with customers and stakeholders to build relationships and experiences that cannot be replicated anywhere else by designing programs that champion Benefitfocus brand, people and culture. She’s dedicated to designing a culture and environment that allows others’ total well-being to flourish through education, programs, and policies, while also improving employees’ health literacy and consumerism. In her previous role at Benefitfocus, she served as the Director of Benefits & Wellness where she established best practices in benefits engagement, education, and data-driven strategies. Misty is committed to fostering the foundations of a healthier workforce and community by embracing all the different pillars of well-being: physical, mental/emotional, financial, and social/purpose. She has been certified as a worksite wellness specialist with the National Wellness Institute and a Franklin Covey Facilitator in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

Asking the Right Questions

Being aware of what your people need right now and how they want to be engaged are the most important questions to shift from the professional LinkedIn profiles walking around in your hallways to the whole person walking around. It’s important to ask them what’s going on in their life, not just what benefits they want next year, because you’ll get cookie-cutter answers like medical, dental, vision, etc. But instead, if you ask them deeper questions such as “Are you caregiving for anyone in your family right now? Have you purchased a home in the last 12 months?” You will not only connect, but you’ll be able to add real value to them and their benefits options. Asking the right questions is key before you start designing a benefit plan that doesn’t apply or benefit your people.

questions misty guinn leadership with heart

Making Better Choices in 2022

making better choices in 2022

Decisions, Decisions…

I was walking with my son one day, and he said to me:

“Everything starts with a decision, which is just really a choice. We all have to make a series of choices. That gets us where we are today.”

He went on to say that as he makes choices, he would do what others wanted him to do if he was interested in that option, but if it didn’t interest him or he thought it was a bad idea, he wouldn’t do it. Nor would he care what others thought about him regardless of his choice. 

That resonated with me.

In 2021, I made a lot of decisions—many that served me well and some that did not. I wrote a book that came out in April, which required me to focus, have quiet time, get organized, and follow a process with my team. Those were all choices. On the other hand, I wavered on my diet, ate too many sweets, and put on a little weight. I made the decision not to do what I knew would serve me and my preferred health.

Life is constantly about making choices. The no-brainer choices, the difficult choices, and all the curveballs in between. So how can we all be better in 2022 about making choices that serve us well?

Identifying Self Habits

Being able to recognize your habits, good and bad, is so important. We are often too hard on ourselves by jumping to conclusions, overthinking, and making decisions that don’t really benefit us in any way. Some just for the sake of convenience, and others because we simply didn’t take time to think things through.

I once read an article from VeryWellMind about nine psychological habits that make you a better decision-maker and keep your mental health in check. Here’s a short snippet from each:

Take note of your overconfidence

Good decision-makers recognize areas in their lives where overconfidence could be a problem. Then they adjust their thinking and their behavior accordingly. Perhaps you are 90% sure you know where the office is that you’re visiting. Or maybe you’re 80% certain you can convince your boss to give you a promotion. If you’re overconfident about those things, your plans are likely to go awry.

Identify the risks you take

Identify habits that have become commonplace. These things require little thought on your part because they’re automatic. Then take some time to evaluate which might be harmful or unhealthy, and create a plan to develop healthier daily habits.

Frame your problems in a different way

When you face a decision, frame the issue differently. Take a minute to think about whether the slight change in wording affects how you view the problem. For example: One surgeon tells his patients, “Ninety percent of people who undergo this procedure live.” The other surgeon says, “Ten percent of people who undergo this procedure die.” The facts are the same. But research shows people who hear “10 percent of people die” perceive their risk to be much greater.

Stop thinking about the problem

While science shows that there is plenty of value in thinking about your options, overthinking your choices can actually be a problem. Weighing the pros and cons for too long may increase your stress level to the point that you struggle to make a decision.

Set aside time to reflect on your mistakes

Make sure you don’t dwell on your mistakes for too long. Rehashing your missteps repeatedly isn’t good for your mental health. Instead, keep your reflection time limited—perhaps 10 minutes per day is enough to help you think about what you can do better tomorrow. Then, take the information you’ve gained and commit to making better decisions moving forward.

Acknowledge your shortcuts

Make it a daily habit to consider the mental shortcuts that lead to bad decisions. Acknowledge the incorrect assumptions you may make about people or events, and you may be able to become a little more objective.

Consider the opposite

Considering the opposite will help break down unhelpful beliefs so you can look at situations in another light and decide to act differently.

Label your emotions

Make it a daily habit to label your feelings. Note whether you’re feeling sad, angry, embarrassed, anxious, or disappointed. Then take a minute to consider how those emotions may influence your decisions.

Talk to yourself like a trusted friend

When faced with a tough choice, ask yourself, “What would I say to a friend who had this problem?” You’ll likely find the answer comes to you more readily when you’re imagining yourself offering wisdom to someone else.

In my book, I talk a lot about self-leadership and how it influences your way of thinking. Refocusing and adjusting these small habits into your life will do you a world of good when it comes to making better decisions in every aspect of your life.

Offering Yourself Solutions

It’s tough sometimes to sit down and think about the choices you’ve made and why you made them, especially when you weren’t happy with the outcome. But there are always ways to break down your thinking and make better decisions next time. Offer yourself realistic solutions.

Know your why for making the decisions you have made. Are they for you or someone else?

I know I’ve made decisions thinking more about others than myself. Many of us do, but being too selfless isn’t always a good thing. Remember that it’s equally important to take into account how you will be affected by your choices. You may be making a decision about something that’s overall best for your family, but is it the best for you? Make sure you consider all outcomes and do your best to make decisions that equally benefit you and any other party you’re considering.

Break it down into bite-sized actions, which makes it easier to accomplish.

Maybe you’re taking on a big project at work, or perhaps you’re just packing for a family vacation. Thinking about everything you have to get done will quickly overwhelm you. Instead, take the time to write yourself a to-do list and check action items off as you go. Seeing your accomplishments one by one will help alleviate that pressure and stress.

Give yourself a little grace, but not too much. Too much allows us to skip backward.

Sometimes you will go off-track, take a detour, and may even be forced to backtrack. Rather than beat yourself up or blame others, remember to give yourself a little grace. You will quickly find yourself back on track and will figure out how to overcome almost any obstacle.

Exercise gratitude and give yourself praise for which choices you stick to daily and the results.

Anything worth having is worth tracking. Measure your success and setbacks along the way in a journal or tracking tool. For example, I have gone in and out of tracking what I eat, and I am much more successful at staying on track when I know I have to write it down.

Remember, we are all human. We will make some decisions that move us forward, and some that move us backward. It’s how we are. We can increase our chances of making better choices and achieving all we want in the new year if we recap the five above.

Going into 2022, which choices will YOU make?

200: Leaders with Heart Trust Their Instincts

instincts whiting dimock
Subscribe to the Leadership with Heart Podcast:

In this episode, Heather sits down with Whiting Dimock, her long-time friend, and former law school classmate. Whiting started her career in a big law firm, where she spent a few years before transitioning into a corporate setting. During that time, she worked for a commercial real estate company and eventually switched to work on the people side of the law business. After some years, she moved back to Boulder, CO to work as the dean of students, where she is currently. She’s now preparing to transition out of her current role to start a law firm with her partner in January.

Key Takeaways: 

  • Her motivation to lead comes from the desire to help people
  • It’s critical to speak up when you don’t think something is right
  • Taking on too much will eventually lead to being unable to deliver
  • Leaders need to be held accountable for their actions
  • The law culture is very demanding of its people
When things don't make sense to me, I can't just be quiet about it. – Whiting Dimock #leadershipwithheart Click To Tweet

Whiting Dimock has served as the senior assistant dean of students at the University of Colorado Law School since 2010. In this role, Whiting has worked to support students as they navigate the law school experience and transition to the legal profession. She works with students and colleagues on efforts to maximize student success and retention, with a particular focus on supporting students from backgrounds that are historically underrepresented in the legal profession. Examples of this work include service on the admissions committee to ensure that the holistic review of applications considers structural barriers to entry into the legal profession, coordination with support resources for students facing mental health, economic, and other challenges, and advising and support as students transition to the legal profession through applying for admission to practice law and preparing for the bar exam. Whiting worked with students and campus leadership to place a full-time psychologist on-site at the law school to help enable free, confidential access to counseling for law students.

Before serving as dean of students, Whiting practiced law and worked in management at large law firms and a commercial real estate company in Washington, D.C. She also served as a career transition advisor for lawyers. Her experience includes recruiting, integrating, training, coaching, evaluating, mentoring, advising, and facilitating departures of personnel. Whiting earned her law degree from the University of Colorado Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Williams College.

In January 2022, Whiting is leaving the University of Colorado to return to practicing law. She and her partner Glen Matthews are founding a law firm, Dimock Matthews LLC, to assist individuals facing divorce, DUI charges, and other challenging circumstances.  

Wearing Ourselves Down

We have such a “no pain, no gain” mentality and nonstop pressure to push ourselves. This mentality is so common amongst us in law. Many think that it’s the only way to succeed. The legal profession rewards that type of mentality so much that we’ve gotten to a point where we idolize it. I’ve noticed that the times when I feel not the best about how I’m showing up is when I have really overworked myself. I’ve had to learn how to distinguish between individual employee problems versus systemic problems. Before, I would blame myself or the systems in place when something didn’t go right. That was taking a toll on me mentally, so learning how to distinguish has been life-changing. I’m kind of shifting back to basics right now. Taking more time to take care of myself and what I’m focused on. I’m learning how to train myself to understand what my needs are.

instincts whiting dimock


Connect with Whiting on LinkedIn 

Subscribe, rate, and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts

Listen to the podcast on Spotify

Handling Layoffs with Dignity

layoff better ceo

The Ugly Truth

I’m sure you’ve heard about the CEO from who recently laid off 900 of his employees over a Zoom call. Sure, he came forth to apologize eventually, but a late apology often seems as empty as the cold delivery that started it all. I mean 900 employees, wow! If you haven’t yet read the recent updates, company executives also resigned following the chaos. What a terrible way for an organization to crumble. And all for the sake of not having a caring leadership mindset.

Back in 2014, I had a personal layoff experience. I am blessed to say the company I worked for at the time handled it with dignity and made my family, and I feel cared for through the process. They did it with kindness, which set the pace for everything that came along thereafter. I was able to handle my layoff without depression or prolonged anxiety about what would come next. You can read my full story in this article.

But it’s all too often we see that isn’t the case with most layoffs. They may be unfortunate events, but when an organization is ready for the unexpected, such as the Coronavirus, they will take the brunt of the suffering and not lay that onto their employees.

Unfortunately, many employees aren’t taken care of or valued for the time they’ve put into their position. So in light of a layoff, they look to their managers or HR and often don’t receive the correct answers. Instead, they’re told one thing and maybe a few days later, told something entirely different. It can be a frustrating, difficult, life-altering event to navigate that is avoidable if there is structure in place to provide families with support in these circumstances if it’s ever needed. 

Dignifying the Decision

I think everyone would agree that laying an individual off from their position isn’t something that comes easy. If you’ve ever been put in that situation before, the stress and emotional anxiety that hangs on your shoulders can get overwhelming. Similar to the stress and anxiety that begins to spiral if you’re the one being laid off.

  • How will they survive without their salary?
  • Can their partner support them while they find a new job? What if they’re the sole provider?
  • What will happen with their insurance?
  • How will they pay for childcare?

The list of anxieties goes on and on. Though the situation from both sides may not be ideal, there’s a way to make it dignified on both fronts. So how can you be a caring leader through something like this? It’s important to be transparent and upfront, but in a caring, genuine way. I talk about this in a recent podcast that you can listen to here

Things to Consider

Be kind about it. You shouldn’t say things like, “If you’re on this Zoom call, you’re one of the unlucky few being laid off,” as the CEO did. That’s certainly not caring. As I’ve said before, it’s just as important to be a servant leader during layoffs and furloughing as it is through a regular workweek. After the initial shock has worn off, find ways to help make the transition easier.

Be of service to those going through this tough time. My previous HR went above and beyond to ensure my family was insured during my layoff until we could make the necessary changes. This was something that definitely was not expected.  

Be involved. Check-in with those affected and make sure everything is going as well as it can during this time. If you had promised anyone information that you didn’t necessarily have the answer to when the news was originally delivered, be sure you do your due diligence to follow up and provide those answers.

Be open to additional communication. There will be a lot of questions that will be thrown at you as the layoffs or furloughing take place. Leading with openness and willingness to communicate as much as you can for those with a lengthy list of questions will make your team feel much more supported.

Leading with Dignity

Layoffs and furloughing will always be unfortunate, and many times unavoidable, circumstances. Knowing the best ways to demonstrate caring leadership and soften the blow to those afflicted will speak volumes about your character. The way you lead with heart and present solutions to these individuals will become a direct reflection of your organization. We all remember how we felt at each place we worked. At the end of the day, employees just want to feel that the time and effort they put into their job was worthwhile. This will be a time to show them they are valued and appreciated. If you can manage to leave them with their dignity when they walk out the door, they will remember you more fondly.