LeadingSmart

Practical Stuff for Church Leaders

Six Months Later

Layoff-notice Six months ago today we announced the elimination of 7 full-time positions and additional cuts in hours. The weeks just before and after that day were among the most difficult for our team that I can ever recall, and definitely the most painful leadership moments for me. Some random thoughts going through my mind as I reflect back...

  1. Nearly every day in these 6 months I've thought about the 7 who lost their jobs. I pray for them constantly.
  2. Our employment advisor said on that day, "You can provide an environment for healing, but you can't be the healers." That was hard to hear, but she was right. In this case, the one who caused the pain can't also be the one to heal the pain.
  3. Laying off people is messy. There is no easy way to tell someone they no longer have a job. I hated those conversations. I hope we never have to face that again.
  4. I regret that I lost the friendship of a someone who meant a great deal to me. I have no idea how it could have been avoided, but it saddens me greatly.
  5. I believe the transition for a few individuals took the lid off their capacity and potential. For example, Albert Martin now serves at Church By the Glades in Florida and Adam Tarwacki is the Creative Director at St. Mark's Church in North Carolina.
  6. People (from afar) have suggested, "I'm sure it was hard, but you probably got rid of some dead weight." Uh, no. We didn't get rid of any dead weight. The time to get rid of dead weight is when you notice it's dead...you don't wait for layoffs. The people we lost were great people who were contributing significantly to the mission.
  7. We haven't replaced any of the lost positions, nor hired anyone else into new positions. So I also think and pray every day for our remaining staff who continue to dig in and do more to make up the difference. For example, there are several staff members who give up a few hours a week to answer the phones since we no longer staff a receptionist.
  8. It was right and honorable that the church covered full pay and insurance for the displaced for months following their departure. It was difficult financially--but I don't regret it a bit.

There are days that I miss each one who is gone. I miss Adam's incurable optimism. He was even smiling the day I had to tell him I didn't have a job for him any longer. I miss Deb and her long-held love for the church, and the way she could gently tell me that my receipts were missing. I miss getting killed by Albert on Call of Duty and his quiet yet effective leadership.

I miss Shelley's can-do attitude and willingness to tackle any new project. I miss Lindsay's contagious laugh, killer smile and her can't-be-beat guest relations personality. I miss Wendy's pleasant "hello" each day as I passed her cleaning windows or setting up chairs. And, I miss Dottie--the "voice of GCC"--and her amazing ability to stay up even when life had her down.