Any leader knows how difficult it is to hire the right people—until they’re faced with the heartbreaking task of letting them go. During the coronavirus crisis, most companies are looking for ways to decrease their expenses. Many choose to cut costs through layoffs.

Karin Hurt, author and founder of Let’s Grow Leaders, admits there are no easy answers right now. If you’re tasked with downsizing your team, read on. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we share Hurt’s guidance for how to lead with compassion when you must make layoffs.

Banish the word non-essential. Hurt reminds leaders that no one wants to hear that the job they’ve been pouring their heart and soul into isn’t vital. Your team members have probably worked nights and weekends and taken emergency calls in the middle of dinner. Don’t tell them their role is non-essential.

Turn on the camera and look them in the eye. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. It’s crazy to have to tell someone they don’t have a job remotely, says Hurt. However, do the right thing and don’t hide behind an email.

Help them process their feelings. Hurt advises against saying, “It’s not personal.” Of course, this is personal. Losing your job is stressful under any circumstance, she says. But it’s likely that this news is on top of some other traumatic stress they’re dealing with. Go slow. Be a listener. Help them to process what’s happening.

Be a resource. Hurt says you can help those you have had to let go by endorsing them on Linkedin. Help them clean up their profile. Leverage your network to help them find a job.

Keep the door open. Don’t make promises, says Hurt. However, if you’d love to bring them back, don’t be afraid to tell them. People need to know how much you value them. Humans want to be needed. Be human.

Streamline the work for everyone else. It’s unlikely that you “just cut the fat,” notes Hurt. Figure out how to support your stressed and overwhelmed team that remains. Ask them for their best ideas on how to streamline the work and to serve your customers during this challenging time.

Find the support you need. Hurt wants leaders to remember that this is not their fault. This doesn’t make it any easier, though. Acknowledge your emotions. Cry if it helps. You are human, trying to lead the best you can in the middle of one of the most stressful moments in your life. Find people who care about you and ask for help.

During layoffs, the future looks bleak—to those who were let go and to those who remain. As a leader, it’s critical to do everything you can to help others. Be a resource, guide those who remain on your team, and above all else, show your humanity.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Karin Hurt is the founder of Let’s Grow Leaders. She was named on Inc.‘s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers and American Management Association’s 50 Leaders to Watch. She’s the author of several books, including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates.