Letting Go Of Half My Employees

Matt Drozdzynski

CEO at Pilot



"While working as the CEO of a company with around sixty to seventy people, my company got to a point where we had to let go of half of our staff. Because our teams were distributed, this made things even more difficult. I wanted to tell everybody at the same time so everyone felt like they were in the loop, but at the same time, I wanted to make things a little more personal to make sure we could reassure people about what was about to happen."

Actions taken

"Ultimately, my co-founder and I decided that everybody needed to learn about what was happening at the same time so they had a shared context and understanding of our reasoning. We decided to set up a Google Hangout for our entire team and I presented what was going to happen. Before the presentation, I wrote down all of the points that I absolutely had to hit because it was important to us that we were extremely clear about what was happening, why it was happening, and what the consequences were."

"We didn't say who was and wasn't going to be let go during the presentation, so we had to do it in a way where we spoke one-on-one with each individual who would be affected. We decided to speak one-on-one with everybody for 10-15 minutes to either reassure them that they were staying on and to explain the changes we were making, or to let them know that we were letting them go."

"The structure we put in place in terms of having a shared announcement followed by one-on-one discussion was really useful. We wanted to treat the people who were leaving with dignity and to part on good terms, but we also needed to announce our changes in a good, structured way for the people who were staying."

Lessons learned

"In situations like this, clear communication is absolutely key. Communicating things clearly when your staff work remotely is always difficult but it becomes even harder when the message you are delivering is unwelcome. While I'm not proud that we ended up having to let go of so many people, this is one of the proudest moments in my career because of how we handled the situation and communicated the situation to our employees."

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Matt Drozdzynski

CEO at Pilot

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