How to Be a Good Boss in a Bad Economy

by Robert I. Sutton

THESE ARE TOUGH TIMES for every boss I know. Fear and paranoia are running wild, not just in financial markets but in workplaces, too. A few weeks back a weary executive at a professional services firm told me how painful it had been to lay off 10% of his people and how he was struggling to comfort and inspire those who remained. When I asked a mutual friend, the CEO of a manufacturing firm, to “show some love” to this distressed executive, he jumped in to help—but admitted that he was wrestling with his own demons, having just implemented a 20% workforce reduction.

It was not a coincidence to find two friends in such similar straits; few organizations seem to have avoided them. Even ...

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