I recently wrote a short post about my experience in rightsizing my business, and how firing my team was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
I had a reader ask about whether it caused pain for others.
And I wanted to address this. I didn’t go into detail on my previous post, and I thought it was an important point. My post was too short to be able to adequately convey the timeline + complexity of it all.
Firing staff was absolutely one of the most heart-wrenching and painful times in my life. It was not joyful at the time for me or for anyone involved. The joy + lightness came much later.
It wasn’t my original intention to reduce my team so drastically. I wasn’t all: YEEEW! I’M FIRING EVERYONE TODAY! HOW FUN LOLZ!
I also didn’t do it for profit reasons – that was a side effect that was realised down the track. I did it because my business was no longer what it was supposed to be and was veering terribly off course. I made some awful hiring decisions that created a toxic working environment in many ways. It felt like despite my best intentions, and feeling like I was going above and beyond as an employer, I wasn’t supported in the ways I needed to be.
I tried my hardest over a number of years to try and make it better. I got coaching, healing and therapy (often with staff members!) My health, marriage, and kids were suffering under all the stress. My business was no longer a place of joy for me or my staff. It was so apparent that we couldn’t continue down the same path we were on. I considered closing it all down, or even selling off parts of my business.
I was faced with a difficult decision – do I keep everyone’s jobs, knowing that it would mean I would have to close down the business in due course? Bear in mind – if I closed down the business, it meant I could no longer support not just my family, but all the philanthropic partners we supported and the clients we looked after. It was a no-win situation.
In the end, I didn’t fire my staff all at once. 85% of my team resigned over the space of a couple of years to take on other jobs. I didn’t replace them when they did leave. I won’t go into details on staff that I did fire for privacy and ethical reasons. I only fired in extreme circumstances where it was needed, I’d given many chances, had communicated boundaries clearly and was above and beyond generous. I took no pleasure in it, and cried a FUCKTONNE over it.
It was devastating personally and professionally. It’s the reason why I took more than a year away from creating and doing anything public-facing with my business.
Did I retain friendships with any of my employees? Yes, with the ones where it felt healthy and good to do that. One of my dearest friends is someone who has worked with me on and off for five years in three of my businesses, and we’re still in partnership in a business today. There are many I didn’t however because I am committed to only having healthy relationships in my life. Relationships take two people willing to have open conversations and are willing to do the personal work.
Sometimes I dream of my past employees. I see them at a distance, and I see their hearts, and I wish deeply for love, ease and abundance to surround them. That period of transformation was difficult for everyone involved. I so hope they have found their own right, true path now. Hiro Boga says: “Sometimes, a No to them is a Yes to their soul.” And I dearly hope that is right. I hope by stopping something which wasn’t functional or healthy, they were free to find something which was.
I have friends who have scaled and have large teams and they are thriving and adoring it. I’m so happy for them, in awe of them, and know deeply that it absolutely is not in my zone of genius.
Was rightsizing my business absolutely the right thing to do?
100%. It was that, or it needed to close. Was it painful at the time? Yes, profoundly. For all involved. It just was not the right fit on any level.
I rightsized my business. It was excruciating AND it was the right thing to do. The joy, the space, the ease and the purpose came later.
A wildfire tore through my life some years ago. It scorched the earth. It took time, but the trees regrew and the wildflowers returned. And when I step into the sacred space of my business, it is alight again with the energy of what it always was, and always was meant to be.
I dearly hope this makes sense.
I’m sending each of you love, right where you are.