Unfortunately, as our economy has been hit devastatingly hard by this pandemic, some businesses are not going to rebound and are being faced with difficult decisions that have long term impacts to their employees. Some have been able to temporarily furlough employees and call them back as business rebounds. However, others may find themselves in a situation where they need to close the business altogether. In those situations, if the company is large enough to have an HR person on staff, you will likely play a key role in winding things down and may be one of the last ones employed by the business. A lot of people will be looking to you for guidance during this critical time.
I found myself in such a position back in 1999 when I was the HR Director for a large medical group that closed. It was not something that I was expecting. Unfortunately, there was a nasty and pretty public dispute between the physician owners and their management company that ultimately led to the dissolution of the company. Less than a year after starting there, much to my surprise I found myself in a key leadership role helping to wind down a medical group that had employed 150 physicians and over 600 staff. It was quite a learning experience. Although you’d never wish for it again, I’ve found that often the most stressful times are the ones where you can grow the most. And now I’m able to share what I learned with you from that experience.
Ten Key Considerations in Preparing for a Dissolution:
Most of all, having a great sense of empathy during the whole process of a dissolution for what your employees are experiencing will be critically important. In all likelihood you are experiencing similar feelings as your employees since your job is impacted as well. This is the time to do your best to compartmentalize and try to set your personal situation aside while you support them at work to the extent that you are able. With that said, make sure you have a support system lined up for yourself also.
People will look to you to role model how to get through the period of difficulty and this is a time for you to serve as a resource. A collective sense of shared loss and grief can be felt and recognized together, but a sense of hope and encouragement about their future is also what they need. There’s something healing when an organization does their best to take care of those who work for them. Even when the ultimate outcome isn’t what anyone wanted, knowing that you’ve done your best to help those who are left adrift at the end to sail and not sink will leave you feeling good about a job well done under the most difficult of circumstances.
If you find yourself in this situation and need any assistance or just someone to lend an ear, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org . I’d be happy to help. I know how hard this journey can be.
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Laurie is an experienced Human Resources executive who is passionate about organizational culture, creating great workplaces and employee engagement.