One of the most challenging times to be a Manager is giving staff notice that their job is no longer required.
These difficult conversations can be handled well or poorly, based on the Manager’s own experience, values, and training.
As notice of redundancy and retrenchment is so hard on Managers and impacted staff alike, what is an effective method to help deliver and receive this bad news?
In principle, Managers should aim to deliver a short, direct, yet compassionate and constructive message.
As a general framework, I advise Managers to:
- Have the conversation in person;
- Thank the impacted team member for their contribution;
- Tell the impacted team member that you are genuinely sorry this situation has presented;
- Tell the impacted team member that you appreciate all they have done;
- Discuss the finality of the business decision;
- Make it abundantly clear that it is a business decision and not a personal decision.
I have found over and over, that huge spades of empathy, sympathy, and discipline in how the Manager delivers the notification, can go a long way in, not go far in avoiding to exacerbate an already delicate, fraught, and sensitive situation.
One technique I find that helps Managers to prepare when giving notice is have them reflect back to when they were rejected for something.
Supportive examples of this could be when they were not selected for a sports team; when they broke up a relationship; or even when they were laid off from work themselves.
Once they recall that scenario, I ask Managers to then ponder:
- How would they have liked that conversation to have gone?
- What worked well?
- What could have been done differently?
- What do they remember about that situation all those years later?
- How can they message this so it is conveyed in a way that is respectful and appreciative of what the employee may be experiencing in his/her head and heart; and
- Given point 5, how can the message be conveyed so in a direct, yet sympathetic, empathetic and disciplined way?
By adopting this approach, Managers can deliver this difficult news effectively and yet have it received relatively painlessly.
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