A layoff memo will be scrutinized. Here's what to say

Find this sweet spot to move up the leadership ladder | practice (split each time) | A layoff memo will be scrutinized. Here's what to say
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May 30, 2024
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Leading the Way
Find this sweet spot to move up the leadership ladder
(Alexey Yaremenko/Getty Images)
Make yourself more visible as a potential leader by working on confident body language, being diplomatic when speaking and positioning yourself near others with more influence so you become "powerful enough to be listened to but attractive enough to be followed," says Suzanne Peterson, an associate professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University. "And that is a difficult balance, but [...] the best leaders seem to hit that just in the middle where you say, I really feel compelled to listen to this person, but I'm rooting for them," Peterson says.
Full Story: Harvard Business Review (tiered subscription model) (5/29) 
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Put it into practice: To move into a leadership role, be strategic in every situation, Peterson says, such as diplomatically disagreeing during a meeting instead of complaining afterward or asking questions to show you're listening and open to ideas. Whatever tactics you may use, stick with what feels authentic to you, Peterson advises.
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Smarter Communication
A layoff memo will be scrutinized. Here's what to say
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Layoff notices are never easy to write, but they can help employees who are left behind if they are clear, concise, include the CEO or other leadership taking responsibility, recognize the contributions of those leaving and are honest about the challenges ahead for those who remain, writes Tom Corfman, a senior consultant with RCG. "Messages announcing job cuts are likely the most closely read and widely shared communication by employees in every organization. Every word counts," Corfman writes.
Full Story: Ragan (5/29) 
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Put it into practice: Refrain from surprising employees with a layoff, Corfman advises. Instead, be upfront with them if the company is struggling, and if the day arrives when layoffs are necessary, don't bury the news under a bed of platitudes at the beginning of the message.
An open door policy will only work if employees are comfortable approaching you, writes author and global leadership strategist Jane Hyun, who recommends bosses use one-on-one meetings and other conversations to learn about their team members and their preferred ways to communicate. "Some employees need to be encouraged to share their point of view with psychological safety, especially if they've worked for managers who did not allow this," Hyun writes.
Full Story: Fast Company (tiered subscription model) (5/28) 
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Put it into practice: Approach each conversation with curiosity and prepare yourself with three questions: "What is their thought process?" "How will I best connect?" and "How do I demonstrate curiosity about their point of view?" "Meeting regularly with your team provides multiple opportunities to bring their point of view," Hyun notes.
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In Their Own Words
Lee Yuan Siong, AIA group chief executive and president, took the helm in 2020 just as the pandemic began, requiring them to quickly transform their status quo of face-to-face to virtual, which is a skill leaders need even when not faced with a crisis. "One of the most common questions I ask my colleagues is, 'Why are we doing it in this way?' The answer I don't want is, 'Because this is the way we've been doing it for the past ten years.' I want my colleagues to constantly be thinking about how we can do things better," Siong says.
Full Story: McKinsey (5/28) 
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Daily Diversion
How the French make US school lunches look even worse
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School lunches in US schools may serve "mystery meat" and floppy pizzas, but in France, children receive up to four courses, including a cheese course, while Brazilian schools have switched to all-vegetarian meals. The US is moving to make lunches healthier by adding grains and requiring lower amounts of sugar and salt, but it's a long way from how the French used to do it -- serving beer and wine in elementary schools until 1956 and ending the practice in high schools in 1981.
Full Story: Atlas Obscura (5/27) 
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SmartBreak: Question of the Day
Milk preservation has been a challenge since the mid-1900s. Evaporated milk was one such effort. Who received a patent for it in 1856?
VoteNicolas Appert
VoteGail Borden Jr.
VoteJohn Meyenberg
VoteLouis Pasteur
About The Editor
Candace Chellew
Candace Chellew
Chellew
If you're seeking to move up in leadership, the Harvard Business Review podcast with Arizona State University's Suzanne Peterson is a must-listen (or read, if you prefer transcripts). She makes the point that while you may be good at task-oriented jobs, leadership requires many intangibles that make you both respected and likable.

Interestingly, it's not so much about the personality of up-and-coming leaders, Peterson says, but their behaviors. Personality can be challenging to change, but behaviors are malleable, and where you should put your focus. If, for example, you've been told you're too abrasive, changing behavior, such as not interrupting or asking more curious questions instead of making declarative statements, can change others' perceptions.

Peterson says people either give off "power" behaviors -- such as confidence --  or "attractive" behaviors -- such as being approachable. The key is to find that balance of both, where people listen to you and want to follow you. The trick is to find ways to improve both your power and attractive behaviors in ways that feel natural to you because if you force it, you -- and everyone else -- will know it.

If this newsletter helps you, please tell your colleagues, friends or anyone who can benefit. Forward them this email, or send this link.

What topics do you see in your daily work that I should know about? Do you have praise? Criticism? Drop me a note. And don't forget to send me photos of your pets, your office and where you spend your time off.
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A lot of people understand what not saying anything means, so, in effect, not saying anything is really saying a lot.
Bill Walton,
professional basketball player, television sportscaster
1952-2024
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