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Ask Dan
Recently I fired a staffer. Now other team members feel paranoid that I'll start firing them, too. How do I reassure them their jobs are safe?
Whenever someone is terminated, it creates a ripple effect on those remaining behind. Because your staffers may not be completely privy to the reasons behind the firing, they might assume that it was for unfair or arbitrary reasons, leaving them at risk for a similar fate.

It's important to return to business as usual as quickly as possible, without letting rumors snowball or ill feelings fester. There are a few steps you can take, then, to help diffuse the tension. First, meet with your team members and assure them you are happy with their work, and that no one else's job is on the line. Additionally, tell them you would be happy to address any concerns they have individually and in private.

Next, focus on shoring up the team's morale, both as a group and individually. One way is to dedicate a portion of your regular meetings to praise your team's work on current projects. For instance, complement your team by noting a tight deadline met, a difficult challenge solved, or a glowing customer comment received. Then, take the same approach to each team member personally, offering your appreciation in emails or private chats to show you've noticed his or her hard work and accomplishments. Soon, the only time they'll think of termination is when they watch an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie.

Dan Lumpkin, organizational psychologist, is the president of management-consulting company Lumpkin & Associates in Fairhope, AL. Need answers? Email your career-related questions to askdan@exhibitormagazine.com.
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