A Facilities Manager was told that due to business restructure, she was no longer employed. The news came as a complete surprise to her. HR had all the paperwork in place, backing up her Manager as an administrative and witnessing party; and both the Manager and HR emphasised the reasons for her lay off were due to restructure – and not due to performance.
Notwithstanding, the Facilities Manager was shocked and admitted to the HR Manager as she was walked out of the building of hearing nothing of substance other than she had lost her job.
Straight after the news was to be given to the Facilities Manager, I was lined up to meet the now departing employee and introduce our career transitioning, outplacement, career coaching services.
My experience is that 9 times in 10 cases, the employee does not want to see anyone: not me; not work colleagues; not anyone.
This employee was just like the majority of cases.
As a sign of the times, regrettably this scenario played out several times this week – the Facilities Manager redundancy was not unique. My time waiting at the client’s offices, with a view to meet the Participant was spent working offsite – but never ended up meeting the intended employee.
As expected, the departing employee just wanted to leave and process. Gather her thoughts. Speak to her significant other. Cry. Shout. Get angry. Come to grips with her loss.
The desire to meet me - her new ‘best friend’ Career Coach did not even cross her mind. And realistically, would it cross your mind if it happened to you? Unlikely. In fact we've found that there is a 9 in 10 chances that it never does.
Rather from my experience, the departing employee continues to hear noise; the replaying of the termination conversation; the question in her mind of what the heck just happened; the meaning and sense making; how she will let her significant other know; and a whole lot more.
When this happens, there is little place for logic. Rather - what predominates is almost purely emotion.
Everyone is shattered by the process: it’s understandably very emotional: on the recipient; on HR; on the Manager; on the remaining staff; and maybe surprisingly on me and any of our Coaches.
When something like this happens:
- We acknowledge that the intentions by the employer are fair, namely to mitigate risk and to show - even in these circumstances - that the employer cares.
- We advise that instead that the employee be given a pack outlining the transition process and advising the employee that a timely call be made to the departing employee within 24 - 48 hours of the event. Still timely enough. Yet from our experience, this has been very well received.
- We advise when giving the bad news, that it’s important to be direct and ensure the loss is explained, before the noise of the situation overwhelms.
- We advise that it’s important to care for the departing employee and equally important to care for the feelings and welfare of the remaining staff.
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