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Ex-Manager Shares Early Warning Signs Of Layoffs To Watch For

With the threat of a recession looming around every corner, many people are beginning to fear the possibility of being laid off. Though the possibility of a recession isn't absolute, it's making many workers fear for the worst.

The worst part about layoffs is that you don't always see them coming. But luckily for us, some people have been around long enough to pick up on all the signs.

One TikToker shared signs to look out for, from the perspective of middle management.

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Phong Thieu (@phong.thieu), shared a series of TikToks describing his experiences with layoffs as a middle manager, as well as how to spot the signs before they happen.

In the first TikTok, Thieu talks about how layoffs are generally planned months in advance.

"By the time it gets to you, there's not much you can do," he says. "C levels and some other leaders depending on the size of your company, will have already had a lot of conversations. This could span as far back as half a year."

"These conversations would have been triggered by market downturn, financial projections, revenue expenses..."

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"While these conversations are happening, middle managers get probed down the chain. You'll get asked things like, 'hey, how's it going with the team, how are people feeling, are they happy, unhappy, who's performing,' stuff like that."

"They can't tell you if a layoff is happening, but if you've been around for a while, you start seeing the signs."

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"And as a middle manager, you can try to turn things around at this point. But you can't explicitly tell your team that a layoff is happening, one: because no one told you, and two: because you don't want to create fear."

In the second part, Thieu talks about how middle managers are being assessed alongside their employees.

"So you can't just be like 'the project is great, the people is great, everything is going great' because most of the time, not everything is great."

"Then finance, ops, legal, they'll get back to leadership and say we've got to cut expenses by, I dunno, 10% or something."

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"This 10% is not evenly distributed across the departments and teams. Some teams might not get affected... your team might get hit heavily."

This is the point where leadership tells you to give them names for layoffs, which is about as fun for middle management as it is for the employees.

In part 3, Thieu talks about how this is the point where managers get together to discuss who to lay off.

"Your job at this meeting is to protect your people," he says.

"At this meeting it's not so much 'who are we cutting,' it's 'who do we need to keep.'"

In the final part, Thieu talks about what middle management's part is once the list is finalized.

In short, it may become these managers' jobs to lay off the affected members of their teams.

"It could be you having the final conversations with your people in a one-on-one format."

"Which, you know, it's a better and more human thing to do..."

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"...than gathering people in a Zoom call to listen to the CEO, or see a pre-recorded video."

The whole process sounds mentally and emotionally exhausting for everyone involved.

The first TikTok of the series has been viewed over 260k times since it was uploaded.

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And people are really appreciating the perspective Thieu gives in it, as well as the rest of the series.

"As a VP in tech for 10 ish years now, this is 100% spot on," one user commented.

Others were really thankful for the info.

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Giphy | The Office

A commenter wrote, "Thank you for this series. I’m a middle manager and now seeing the signs at my company and have felt a layoff has been coming for a while."

This series may not prevent a layoff, but it can help people learn the warning signs.

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Giphy | Yellowstone

As Thieu states throughout the four TikToks, there's little middle management can do. But knowing the warning signs will at least help you, and possibly your team, prepare for the worst.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!