All managers have to go through tough moments throughout their career. Being a manager comes with rewarding moments when it's all about you, all about your great achievements, your amazing team, but also with tough times when you have to be strong and think of the team. There may be times when the client tells you that they no longer have money to pay all members of your team and some of them need to go. Your job is to decide which ones. Tough one, huh? Being a manager no longer seems so appealing, right? Well, you have to do it and here is how to:
1. Take time to think things through - don't decide on the spot. You will need to explain your decision to the team and you need to have strong arguments;
2. Discuss with some fellow managers or some people you trust if you feel like doing so. You may need support with your decision. Being guilty is inevitable, so at least they will help you accept the situation easier; they will confirm your decision or help you decide and feel better;
3. Make a list of the criteria to use in selecting the people that have to go. Include professional criteria ONLY related to performance on the job. No social reasons like: this one has a family, this one has an old mother to support, this one has a loan, you have a better relationship with this one, this one brings food on Fridays for the team, this one gave you a great Christmas gift, this one is your brother or you date this one's sister - all these criteria can't exist on your list. No way! By using non-professional criteria you risk losing the respect of the remaining team;
4. Rate all team members according to the criteria on your list. Make a top of all team members according to rating;
5. Now that you have the names of the people that have to go, meet each one in particular and tell them; explain that it was your decision and that they were selected according to the criteria you used; give them all the details and take responsibility for the decision - tell them about the situation created by the client, but don't blame everything on the client - admit it was you who selected them and tell them why in a firm and clear manner; offer them alternatives if they exist - show them you care and that you have tried to help them somehow - if no alternatives exist, at least offer them support in finding another job - offer them recommendations, ideas, contact fellow managers from other teams/companies for help if this is an option;
6. After telling each team member, organize a team meeting and tell everyone - tell them about the criteria, about those that have to go and again take responsibility for your selection.
This is it. Not nice at all, but think that it will make you stronger as a person and as manager. Not everything is pink and wonderful in your job and dealing with such critical situations is your chance to prove that you as team manager was a good choice for your managers.
Take care and I wish you as little situations as the one above as possible,