It’s Lonely at the Top

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Building Back Trust

You are running an organization that is, mostly, doing well, but now you’re dealing with one of the many challenges of leadership. It’s easier for everyone to be happy if things are going well. When there are layoffs, those who survive the cuts are reminded of the precariousness of at-will employment. While the members of your staff don’t have all the context for why you were forced to make this decision, they are entitled to their feelings, which are largely born of fear and sadness. They have questions. Are more layoffs on the horizon? Who’s next? What criteria are you using in deciding who will be laid off? Was there truly no other way to address the unexpected shortfall?

Building back trust will take time, but it is absolutely possible. Allow people to have their feelings as you chart the path forward. It won’t help matters to over-explain that you did what was best for everyone’s benefit because, while that may be true, there’s at least one person who will beg to differ.

Moving forward, communicate openly and consistently about major organizational changes, and don’t assume how people will respond. Listen to their concerns without being defensive. You also need to make peace with knowing that sometimes, as the leader, you are going to make decisions that are difficult, are unavoidable and won’t please everyone. With power comes responsibility. With difficult decisions come consequences.

Desperately Seeking Clarity

You’re navigating so much here, and I completely understand your confusion and exhaustion. You’ve been clear about your communication needs, and I’m not sure why your colleagues are unable to respond accordingly. The issue seems more to be that you’re working for people who are poor managers and communicators than one related to autism. Nothing you’ve asked for is unreasonable.

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