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Are 200,000 layoffs leading the tech industry into a perfect storm?

Management| Career
February 07, 20234 min read

A recent job report showed the U.S. economy was still humming nicely in January. But in the tech industry, the new year got off to a depressing start, with Amazon announcing on January 4 that it would be laying off 6% of its workforce or 18,000 employees. Microsoft followed suit a couple of weeks later, and then Google Alphabet said it would be laying off 6% of its employees. In the days since, the downsizing trend has continued, with Okta, Spotify, business software company HubSpot, cybersecurity firm NCC Group, and PayPal all announcing layoffs. An estimated 60,000 jobs this year so far, in addition to the 150,000 tech jobs shed in 2022.

Storm #1

It may not be surprising that tech companies are cutting back. The industry has hired tremendously during the pandemic. Now a slowdown in the digital advertising market, plus a big hit to tech companies' stock prices last year, coupled with anxiety about a possible recession, has made "efficiency" a new preoccupation of tech CEOs. Resulting in over 200,000 tech job layoffs between 2022 and early 2023. 

Storm #2
Recessions happen all the time, and it's a normal part of the economic cycle. However, what's particularly interesting about this recession is that it will be the first to occur during the so-called Networked Age. The past 11 years of economic growth have created the most significant influx of new workers into the workforce since the baby boomers.

Millennial and Gen-Z leaders have risen through the ranks during this time, taking on significant leadership roles across all industries. During the pandemic, these leaders leverage their tech savviness to weather the challenges of working from home and shifting to a hybrid-virtual environment.   

This new generation of managers and leaders will experience a set of recessionary economic conditions for the first time, and it's impossible to predict what will happen. 

Storm #3

How have our corporations prepared these new leaders? Well, here are a few 2023 statistics from Zippia.

  • 77% of businesses report that leadership is lacking

  • 83% of companies agree that leadership development is essential at every level; however...

  • only 5% of companies do it.

In my experience, in most organizations, high-performing technical experts will eventually be asked to lead a team and tasked to deliver results through that team. This is because advancing one's career typically means moving into management, even if their area of expertise is unrelated to managing people. But management and leadership positions require an entirely new set of skills. If new leaders don't learn these skills, they likely end up underperforming and frustrated.

These statistics show that organizations need to fill this gap with the necessary training and coaching to develop technical or functional experts into skilled leaders. They also need to prioritize effective leadership in their reward systems and culture. Without clearly communicating what effective leadership looks like in practice, valuing it, and providing structured opportunities to improve it, they contribute to the gap between leaders' actual and potential effectiveness. It is no wonder that 69% of millennials report leadership development needs.

The optimal way to address these short falls is to turn the traditional leadership training model on its head.     Traditional skills such as vision, strategic thinking, and executive presence need to take a back seat and make way for self-awareness and self-development. Without these two primary leadership skills, leaders will never be able to grow through the economic and environmental changes that all companies experience.

Fortunately for today’s tech CEOs and other leaders, these are features baked into The 6-Step Leadership Challenge, which actualizes Saliba’s Triple-E System ™. The book boasts an iterative and repetitive system of three critical phases, including:

Phase I: Emerge - taking in the current inventory of the individual leader, leadership team, or organization, including strengths/weaknesses, fears and behaviors, styles and skills, and engagement with the environment around them. This is an exploration of self-awareness.

Phase II: Elevate - design a development plan for the individual leader, leadership team, or organization and use the LEAD Framework to:

• Lean into your own story – building a forward-looking vision and strategy

• Empower your story through execution

• Amplify your story by scaling up

• Define your story with executive presence

Phase II: Excel - build and execute a 30/60/90-day action plan with comments of each part of the LEAD framework containing measurable goals and objectives, complete with experiments and learning points.

Through these phases, you’ll be able to work with your leadership style and a meaningful and actionable way to elevate your success.

I recommend starting this work as soon as possible to be better prepared for what’s to come.

James is a 30+ year veteran in the Software and Technology industry. He shares with you his years of experience and winning ways to become a successful leader, while becoming 'unstuck' from the overwhelming challenges that hold us back from complete success.

Jim Saliba

James is a 30+ year veteran in the Software and Technology industry. He shares with you his years of experience and winning ways to become a successful leader, while becoming 'unstuck' from the overwhelming challenges that hold us back from complete success.

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