Tis the season to feel scared for tech jobs. According to
Layoffs.fyi, as of today (Nov 20, 2022),
849 tech companies have laid off nearly 137,000 jobs in 2022. This list
includes the well-publicized Meta, Amazon, and Twitter layoffs and over
75,000 jobs lost in the San Francisco Valley.
If you’re an aspiring transformation leader – what I call a
Digital Trailblazer, chances are, there are people on your team who are scared for their jobs
or concerned about the financial safety of staying at your company.
I brought this to the forefront of discussion at last week’s West IT &
Security Leader’s Forum from SINC USA,
where I moderated the roundtable, “Diving into talent acquisition,
diversity, and retention.” I asked table leaders to discuss the challenges
of diversity and retention through the lens of layoffs, inflation, and a
Our discussion centered around retaining Digital Trailblazers, aspiring
transformation leaders, department lieutenants, and high performers (HiPos)
in their organization. Digital transformation is an ongoing journey, and I
driving transformation is a core organizational competency. Retaining and growing the number of people who can lead and participate
in digital transformation initiatives is essential to all organizations.
“Every organization will need more Digital Trailblazers to develop digitally
enabled products, modernize experiences, democratize data, create
tech‐driven differentiating capabilities, and drive hyperautomation.” –
Isaac Sacolick, in
Digital Trailblazer: Essential Lessons to Jumpstart Transformation and
Accelerate Your Technology Leadership
Digital Trailblazers calm nerves and create enthusiasm
During my roundtable, I had a great discussion, and participants shared
five key ideas on how to use this holiday season to keep people focused and
quell fears. Here are their recommendations:
Ask people how they are feeling. Sometimes the simplest of steps
yield the most benefits. Just asking people an open-ended question about
how they feel provides the opportunity to address concerns. Leaders should
active listening skills
to separate emotional anxiety from real problems and seek counseling help
for those who need it.
Build empathy for personal situations. Some teammates will express
vulnerabilities around their personal situations, including workers on
temporary visas, parents of young children, or those taking care of
elderly parents. The possibility of layoffs adds to their concerns, and
one way leaders can address the anxiety is to
build up team compassion
and empathy. In many organizations, there’s a natural slowdown during the
holiday season, which may be the best time to grow work-life awareness
across the team.
Energize everyone around a mission. If the latest news distracts
people, rallying people around the company mission can bring focus. Or
better yet, consider developing a seasonal mission, such as
volunteering at a nonprofit
or leading one of these
holiday team-building activities.
Thank team members for the smallest wins. The holiday season is the
best time to make amends if there’s any doubt about whether teammates feel
appreciated. Consider these
five ways to say thanks
to teammates that I wrote about last holiday season.
Seek creativity and keep them challenged. While we don’t want to
overwork people during the holiday season, it’s also a good time to
increase employee engagement by scheduling short, creative, and low-stress
projects. Practical ideas may be to organize cleanup activities, such as
cleaning up ITSM tools
that I recently wrote about and moderated a webinar on. It’s also a good
time to schedule a low-stress hackathon, lead a blue-sky brainstorm, or
plan next year’s
learning and development programs.
Other ideas? Consider these
for the best remote Thanksgiving if you lead hybrid-working teams. And if
you are in charge of your family’s Thanksgiving celebration, you’ll enjoy my
IT leader’s top ten guide to preparing a Thanksgiving feast.