Layoffs to Layups: Where Can We Find the Positive

This topic is treacherous territory to implement, much more even to debate. My experience with this dark and gloomy concept has usually been where I’m the one getting the pink slip, (side note: it’s usually a single layoff and not inclusive with a mass one). Each time it’s happen to me, I’ve been devastated even if the situation I was leaving was hopeless, dire, and just a ludicrous battle of the personalities (see my post on getting through the tough spots). However, I’ve always found after each ending that the new chapter held something better than the previous one.

And now, I’m at a great company that is EXTREMELY dynamic and successful because it is open to creating a healthy, collaborative environment where truly the whole is greater than the sum of the parts due to transparency, fairness, and trust. Yes, I’m pitching big time for Jet.com, but hey: I believe in them! So, you can imagine my surprise when we had somewhat of a similar situation where we “let go” a lot of our peak-season associates with little to no notice or communication to the whole management team*.

When I finally asked to get an explanation to give to my team, it made sense why the decision was made. However, with this being a rare occasion where I am still at the company, I find myself still affected emotionally and asking, “what went wrong?” Now, this question (I believe) is better than the one I’ve always asked myself before in similar circumstances: “what did I do wrong?” There are just too many variables involved in these situations to pin the answer on one person or thing, (I know there are exceptions, but just stick with me here). Going back to values that Jet.com holds near and dear, I feel that they weren’t upheld to the fullest extent in this situation.

Granted, when you’re in an environment with 400+ people and at the rate we were recruiting it’s a HUGE task to communicate effectively. Period! A great strategy from one of my favorite professors (shout out to Bret Simmons!) that I thoroughly appreciate in regards to communicating is delivering the expectations simply and clearly not only at the very beginning, but throughout the course of your transaction, relationship, interaction, or whatever you would like to call it. The message was written down and constantly referred back to and if there was any discrepancy or confusion, Bret would immediately edit it to confirm the expectations. He truly to fairness and transparency to the major leagues! This ability of his is what makes it easy to trust him.

Back to the layoff situation, the message communicated to the associates and what we enforced were consistent. That’s a huge plus in keeping with Jet.com’s values! The associates we did keep truly appreciated getting some answers to help ease their worry of the unknown situation occurring. The major component I would’ve added to the scenario to make it better for all involved was the timeliness of communicating. Just like with many scenarios, timing is everything! If you’ve ever seen me play basketball, you’d know I’d definitely need to work on that component with my layup. Hopefully, we as Jet.com’s managment have learned from this situation to make our “layoff” become a perfectly-timed layup instead.

So, to come full circle if I were to have one piece of advice heard by me to my awesomely, amazing company that I enjoy going to every day is to take a page out of Bret’s teachings to fully embody their values through more vigilant and all-encompassing communication. Then, hopefully, the next “potentially negative” event that occurs we can see a “W” instead of “L.” #layup>>layoff

* HUGE DISCLAIMER: I, Kait Cook, am in no way, shape, or form disagreeing or discrediting Jet.com’s decision for the topic being mentioned. The only intention of this post is to create a collaborative, open-ended, and respectful discussion opportunity.

Photo credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Monta_Ellis_layup.jpg

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