Dear Coach: Layoffs at My Company Have Me Floundering

March 21, 2024   |   Julie Diamond

What’s the Problem?

Dear Coach,

Like many others these days, my company just underwent a major restructuring, cutting almost 15% of the workforce. Rumors suggest there is more to come, and the situation feels hard on multiple levels. 

Not only do I no longer understand what my full body of work is, but I’m also trying to manage a team full of people who feel anxious about their futures, and I can’t give them any real answers. 

Of course, my own fears and uncertainty about my future with the company are ever-present too. I just uprooted my family to move to this city, putting my kids in a new school and asking my partner to accommodate the change for this job. 

The leadership has been unclear and uncommunicative about the future, leaving everyone floundering in ambiguity, and I find myself feeling very critical and judgmental about how things are being handled. I know those feelings are fruitless, but with all this heavy weight on my shoulders, it’s the easiest place to go.

How can I find a productive path forward through this really difficult time?


Caught in the Chaos


What Do We Think?

Dear “Caught in the Chaos,”

It’s never easy when a company undergoes layoffs, and it can be even harder when you feel you aren’t getting the guidance and support you need from the top. So, let’s discuss the situation.

First, your question tells us that:

  • Living with the fear of loss, ambiguity, and uncertainty is difficult. It can be destabilizing for not only you but also your family, your team, and everyone else in the organization. 
  • While the leaders above you are trying to figure things out with those above them, your perception that leadership is unreliable is causing you to feel alone in your role. 
  • You realize there’s no quick fix or solution; it’s just a question of finding a way to get through it.

So, exactly how is your problem a power problem? We think:

  • You’re in a power sandwich; you’re feeling disempowered and impinged upon by the changes above you, while you’re also feeling accountable to your team and family, who are looking up to you for guidance and support. 
  • Since this situation is inherently out of your control, you’re having to find power in what you can control – and at this moment, there isn’t much to pull from. 
  • You believe that those above you should know what they’re doing and know how to better manage the situation, but it’s becoming clear that the people in power don’t feel as empowered as they should be.


What’s the Solution?

Here are a few things to consider before you act: 

  • Take stock of what you – and/or your team – can control. 
  • Instead of waiting for leadership to come up with answers, put your positional power aside and determine how you can shape the path forward by communicating clearly and choosing the things you can and want to execute.
  • Reflect on the cycle of business. Like all things in life, there are natural ebbs and flows that we should always anticipate. People will always get laid off, and then people will get hired. Embracing the idea that things go up and down will help you ride those cycles more gracefully.
  • Considering those cycles, take this situation as a sign to always be proactive about your career. No matter how secure your position feels, you must know your value in the marketplace, keep your resume updated, and never get stagnant in your thoughts about your future career. 

Once you feel more at peace with these ideas, it’s time to stop looking up and start focusing on the sphere of your control. Stop indulging in indignation and stop feeding the stories of how unpleasant the situation is. Instead, talk with your peers and your team to get everyone aligned, focusing on what they can control to shift the mood back to one that is positive and productive. 

Just because you can’t change everything doesn’t mean you can’t change anything. Your team needs you; you’ve got this!


Each month, we answer questions we often get from the leaders we work with and unpack how, at the end of the day, every problem is a power problem. If you have an issue you just can’t solve, get in touch! We’d love to answer your questions in an upcoming Dear Coach post. Find us at [email protected], or on LinkedInFacebook, or Twitter.