Exceptional Leaders uphold Dignity and Respect, even in Challenging Situations

I have come to appreciate the values of exceptional leaders because they consistently demonstrate a balance between achieving their goals and valuing their people.

This type of leadership never has been more important. Even as we see glimpses of the economy turning around, we know there is a long way to go.

Among those most greatly impacted are some of these valued people who have lost their jobs through layoffs or terminations. The emotions they experience range from anger, fear and despair to relief and optimism about new opportunities.

Others who are affected may be less obvious, including those who are still employed and the leaders who must make these decisions, which are especially difficult during tough economic times.

What do the exceptional leaders do to help employees when jobs are being eliminated? First, they ensure their managers and HR professionals treat employees fairly so they can transition with dignity and respect. Some offer an opportunity for employees to apply for other positions within the company. Others offer severance pay and a continuation of benefits as a means of minimizing the stress of the change.

Some of the most helpful benefits employers can offer are outplacement services in which transitioning employees are connected with experienced career coaches who provide support and resources that may include:

* Individualized personal coaching.* Career and skills assessments.* Resume review and writing services.* Personal brand development.* Transition strategies.* Job search tracking resources.* Online resources and tools.* Networking skills.* Interview preparation.* Skills for negotiating the offer.* Access to employment professionals.* Group classes or “webinars.”* Personalized marketing Web sites.

There are many reasons displaced employees value these services. For starters, such services help them manage unproductive emotions and transition to positive action more quickly. That can help them explore a broader range of options for employment.

These services also improve confidence and optimism, which ideally shortens the job search process and ensures a smoother transition to the next job.

Likewise, employers also get value from outplacement services. Foremost among a host of reasons is these services often are viewed as “the right thing to do,” and reinforce the positive image the company has worked hard to establish.

Additionally, these services allow former employees to have greater goodwill for the company, regardless of the reason for their termination. That can both positively impact the morale and productivity of the remaining employees and minimize potential costs and liabilities.

Finding the right resource is critical to a successful outplacement experience. The last thing an employer needs at a time like this are displaced employees disappointed by the services provided.

There are, therefore, several questions to consider. Among them:

* Are they staffed with experienced career coaches and employment professionals who know the local and national job market?* Will they promise confidentiality?* Will they establish clear goals and expectations at the outset of the coaching?* Do they provide relevant tools and resources to assist employees in their job search, including professional resume review and expert guidance for navigating the online tools that are available?* Are they flexible in shaping the program to the company’s needs and budget?

The service an employer chooses and their coaches become an extension of your company during this time. That makes it critical they deliver the highest quality services to make this difficult transition less painful for everyone involved.

This article first appeared in the July 12, 2010 issue of the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal.

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