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The threat of layoffs

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Jane, head of merchandising for a fashion company in California, talks about her challenges dealing with employees amid a business slump.

Rumors are flying here. It's getting out of hand just walking from the elevator to my office as people come up to me with crazy stories about impending layoffs that we're supposedly about to announce.

Because everyone sees me as one of the confidants of our CEO, they assume I know what's going to happen before anyone else. In truth, I don't know all that much. The CEO treats me with respect, but he doesn't violate confidentiality or reveal personnel moves he's planning to make.

The other day, a peer named Aileen cornered me and asked, "Jane, if you knew I was going to be laid off, would you tell me?"

"I'm not sure," I told her. "That's hard to answer."

Aileen got upset and berated me for not caring about her and her family. She couldn't believe I would withhold information about her job status.

In my defense, I told Aileen how I was laid off from my former employer. My best friend at that company knew what was coming down but did not warn me.

"I was furious at first," I told Aileen. "But as time passed, I realized the difficult position she was in."

What's funny is, a few days later I learned that Aileen had advance knowledge that an executive at our firm was about to be laid off. She was worried it might be her. But I had no idea a layoff was in the works!

It turns out a training director was let go yesterday. So Aileen was acting paranoid and trying to pry information out of me even though she actually knew far more than I did. Yep, it's crazy around here.


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