Last year, in the wake of my lobbying for increased responsibilities in my job, I got what I wanted. I was promoted to being the regional manager for two clinics. It was great, except for the fact that they were physical outliers from the company, and they happen to be two of the worst performing clinics we had. These two clinics were losing money, had burned through a few regional managers over the prior year, and it was up to me to either save them or close them.
After a few visits out to the clinics, talks with the staff, months spent pouring over clinical reports and financials, and new ideas not working, I came to the realization that they needed to close.
I was proud of myself; I had tried things that hadn’t been tried before in our clinics, I had successfully engaged the staff, and we worked hard to turn it around. It just didn’t work; so I approached our CEO and CFO with the closure plan and they saw my point of view and agreed I needed to close the clinics. I was shocked when I was put in charge of closing them, but I stood there projecting confidence, not letting on to the internal struggle I would soon have.
“It’s business,” I had convinced myself. I spent days rehearsing how I would do it. One day, three flights, two clinics, fifteen people.
The first clinic went as I rehearsed, they were sad, but seemingly understood. I bought them lunch, and as I left they actually thanked me for how I did it and how I had treated them. I left and got on a plane to the second clinic. The second clinic didn’t go as well; I got some blowback. One person raised his voice at me, there were tears, and it was all around horrible, but I had planned. I had disconnected from the emotional aspect of laying people off, and as a result, none of it affected me. I kept my posture, I talked some people through their emotions, and I stayed strong.
As I was leaving the clinic, one of the employees stopped me and asked “was it easy?”
This was the one thing for which I hadn’t prepared; someone asking me to emotionally connect and admit that they were more than just numbers.
The scariest thing about all of this, was that I had emotionally disconnected so much that I almost said yes.