Being a mid-level manager, I was told by my supervisor that a drastic staff reduction in the company is due in a couple of months.

Most of my subordinates will be laid off.

He specifically told me not to say a word about it to others out of fear that they might desert the company and accept a job elsewhere.

They are needed to finish the work on a major project.

I don't know how I should address them.

  • 3
    This is loosely a PM question but I think you might find better traction on the Workplace StackExchange forum. Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 15:32
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    Duplicate of pm.stackexchange.com/q/30594/4271. It’s perhaps slightly more on-topic, but this seems more like a workplace or ethics issue to me.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 16:52
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    I would agree that this would be better on workplace or ethics board. There is a pretty clear course of action that you are expected to take from the company and it sounds like you may be struggling with the ethics of that decision - which is reasonable. As the question is written, it sounds more like you deciding how you want to handle this.
    – Daniel
    Commented Nov 17, 2020 at 17:54

2 Answers 2


To piggy back on @Danny Schoemann's answer, the caveat as it relates to project managers is that all of the resources we use to get a project to the finish line, including employees, are temporary. Unless the project has to downsize due to cost control or secondary to a project change, all project resources, including employees, get "laid off" when either they are no longer needed for the work or the project terminates. So, as a PM, whether you have this RIF knowledge or not, you manage your resources, including employees, to finish the work as scheduled. Projects are typically funded by your customer, so laying off a project employee before they finished the work is less likely (though not impossible) so your approach should be the exact same as before you were told this secret.


Assuming that you are the Project Manager (otherwise, why would you post this to our site), you have no "right" to disclose this information to your team, since it was told to you in confidence.

Your task as PjM is to ensure the project will be in a deliverable state by the "firing deadline" and that everything is well enough documented to hand it over to the "survivors" of the layoffs.

While this is true in general, we all know that in reality the "handover" aspect of a project is usually ignored, since we prefer to deliver things rather than plan for disaster.

The approach you should take is one of "Crisis Control" and make it clear to the team that this project must survive even if all of them do not. You could "play Covid-19" or use any other excuse why suddenly you are being paranoid about this project.

So "Management has decided that we will use this project as a showcase for Disaster Management" may be the type of line you would want to take.

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