How to tell someone they've been made redundant


It’s tough to have to tell someone they are being made redundant.  We spend so much time with our staff – along the way we have talked with  them about their hopes for their kids or supported them through a divorce. In turn, they may have listened to our concerns about our elderly mother –   and now  we have to tell them their job is gone.

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In the movie, ‘Margin Call’, the employees see robotic looking people march in like the grim reaper, tap the unlucky person on the shoulder, hand them a box and in five minutes they are gone!  You can do better than this. These are difficult conversations, but if you work on them, you can at least  make  bad situation for the staff member, considerably better.

Five tips that can help:

  1. Prepare for the conversation: This is drastic news for the person, so you shouldn’t just wing it. In particular, think through your goals for the  conversation – what would you like them to go away thinking and feeling about it?
  2. Manage the logistics: Find a private room , allocate plenty of time for the conversation and bring any useful paperwork related to what happens next and so on.  During strong emotion, many people can’t concentrate and need written information to refer to later.
  3. Get to the point quickly:  The person knows why they are called to the meeting, don’t beat about the bush.  Use an empathetic transition statement such as: ‘I am sorry to be giving you this news…’ or: ‘There’s no easy way to say this..’
  4. Stay neutral and just listen: Empathise with their reactions, whether these include anger, tears, or silence.
  5. Follow up later on: When the conversation is ended, ask them what they need to do (go home, take an hour out to calm down etc?).  Plan to check in with them within a couple of days, even if they say they are fine.

There are some other good tips here and an in interesting range of advice at Mumsnet.

Think through how you would like to be treated in this type of conversation. Remember: Even though the conversation might be emotional for you, it is about their reactions not yours.

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