The Three Essential Steps to Post Layoff Team Recovery

Layoffs…As a manager you dread this word.

Even if you do not get laid off yourself, you may face an even worse situation:

Making sure that the survivors don’t start fending for themselves instead of your business.

If you handle this poorly:

Productivity vanishes,

Morale plummets,

Star performers abandon ship,

Some may even resort to outright sabotage.

And to make it even worse, you have to manage this while you are likely feeling some of the same emotions yourself.

Not a pretty picture.

But you’re not alone.

Many of our energy industry clients are currently facing the same agony of layoffs. To help them, we’ve developed a post-layoff recovery process to get their teams back on track and moving forward.

It consists of three steps. Regroup. Rebuild. Refocus.


In the rush to get back to work after layoffs, managers often forget to help the team deal with the emotional fallout.

Seeing layoffs happen around them cuts to the core of employees’ sense of security, safety and their position in the world. Many will have never considered what they would do after losing their jobs. To make matters worse, in a down economy, chances of finding employment are low unless you are a top performer.

They fear they may be next.

The fear factor is real.

Ignore this at your peril.


Take the emotional fallout seriously.

Talk about this with your team, both individually and as a group. Acknowledge the loss and allow time for grieving. Don’t flinch in the face of the intense feelings of your employees.

As uncomfortable as it may be, wade into the emotional fray and do whatever you can to help your people through it. This can be made even more difficult if you are dealing with the same feelings yourself.

Communicate like crazy. Even to the extent of repeating yourself. After layoffs the rumor mill will go into overdrive and you need to make sure it doesn’t get out of control.

There is no formula for this and outcomes are not guaranteed. But you’ll likely get a much better result by dealing with it rather than ignoring it


You may not have previously built the level of trust with your team that will allow for this to happen.

You may not personally feel ready to handle this.

If not managed well, the emotions that come out can make things even worse.

If the layoffs were handled poorly, the level of mistrust may be so high as to make this very difficult.


Even if you get the first step right, this is where the process often fails.

It’s tempting to simply redistribute the work load and push forward so that you do not lose momentum.

This is a mistake.

With your team already feeling like they’re on unstable ground, throwing them into higher workloads, new responsibilities for which they feel unqualified, and unfamiliar new work and reporting relationships will make it worse.


You and your team need to take stock of where you are now and how you will deal with the current reality.

Facilitate a session where the team helps decide how work gets redistributed. This will help them regain a sense of control and ownership. You may be surprised by how people rise to the occasion. It is also essential to reinforce mutual support so that team members know they’re not in this alone and can rely on their colleagues for help.


You need to be comfortable with opening this up to the team and giving up some control.

You may be tempted to solicit their input and then still go with whatever plan you originally had. Your team will feel cheated and mistrust and cynicism will increase.


What your team was doing before the layoffs may no longer be what it is doing after the layoffs. Priorities will shift with the changing business realities.

Your team may have difficulty rallying around the new goals.


One of the best ways to get beyond a traumatic event is to focus on a better future.

Work with your team to understand the new goals and map out a path to reach them. Including all of your team members in this process is critical as it will give them a sense of control and inclusion.

This goes a long way to mitigating the trauma of layoffs.

Once you and your team create a new focus with tangible, compelling goals around which you can rally, you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.


It takes a lot of empathy, skill and enthusiasm to help team members create their own personal connection to the team’s goals. And without this connection, it’s “just a job”.

If you haven’t done a good job with the first two steps, team members may be so jaded that they won’t even participate in this process.


Layoffs are one of the most traumatic events you can experience in your work life… even if you survived the layoffs.

Dealing with the trauma poorly can lead to disastrous consequences for individuals, teams and the corporation as a whole.

Doing it right requires courage, vulnerability and commitment and leads to not only recovery, but often a whole new level of team excellence.

We Can Help

We can make it easier, create better outcomes, and help protect your business and your team.

We make this happen by guiding you through the three steps of team recovery with a combination of team and individual facilitation conducted by an expert with a long track record of success.

Contact us today so we can help make it better before it gets worse!

Tel: +1 (403) 270-0000.   Email:

Trent Schumann PhotoExperienca

is an outstanding cadre of leadership and team development specialists ready to bring your organization to the next level of teamwork, results and happiness. We’ll get you there with programs ranging from team fun and bonding events to in-depth transformative retreats and longer term coaching and consulting. Our clients love us and so will you!

Contact us today so we can make a difference in your life and your team.

+1 (403) 270-0000

My name is Trent Schumann and I’m the founder and lead facilitator of Experienca. I hope I have the pleasure of working with you soon.


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