How to make someone redundant … nicely.
Updated: Jun 8
Recently, I wrote a post about being made redundant and how to change your mindset, so it becomes an opportunity. A very insightful contact of mine emailed to raise the point that we should also focus on those that have to deliver the bad news – so this is what this post is all about: how to have that difficult conversation in the best way possible.
Thinking back to when I was made redundant it was an unusual situation as a) I was expecting it b) I wanted to leave anyway as I was beginning my new career – as a coach. Still, it was tough to hear that my role was no longer required – therefore I was no longer needed.
My boss handled the whole situation sensitively and definitely did a lot of the below points which I want to share with any leaders, managers or HR personnel who may be facing the daunting task of having ‘that conversation’.
First of all, ensure you are following a fair and legal process with the redundancy. Seek expert advice and guidance from a HR professional or an employment lawyer to make sure you are doing this by the book.
When & Where
Don’t do it on a Friday at 5pm as the person may be alone over the weekend and such news can be very destabilising especially if they have poor mental health. Instead, consider what they will want to do immediately afterwards and plan accordingly – take them for coffee away from the office or book a meeting room for a longer period so they have time to process the news.
Know what you are going to say in advance – rehearses it if necessary and have key points to refer to. You must be as honest and open as possible with the person but not make it personal as it is the role that is being made redundant.
You may well be feeling stressed or anxious going into the meeting and rightly so! Use breathing techniques or any tools to help manage your stress so you can remain calm throughout the conversation. I’m not saying be a robot as it may well be emotional for you, but you now need to be the grounded one and be prepared for any response they may give.
Get to the point fairly quickly yet explain the reasons behind the redundancy and be prepared to answer questions they may have. If you don’t know the answers, then be honest and say you will come back to them.
I know I know – I just said don’t make it personal, however, have some compassion and put yourself in their shoes – everyone likes to receive praise for the work they do and this will help soften the blow. Don’t give conflicting messages but do thank them for all their hard work, achievements and value that they have brought to the company. This will help during the transition period and increase their confidence when moving on.
Give the person the right information about the process and what happens from now such as the notice period, their leave date, their severance package and support they will receive. This may be career or coaching, confidence workshops or outplacement services. Not only will providing these help the person onto the next stage of their career it shows that as a company you care for your people for their entire working life with you, sends a positive message to those that will remain and will end the entire process on a good note. No-one wants someone to leave with bitterness as this will only harm your brand in the long run.
Keep in Contact
This really goes hand in hand with the above point of being a good and value driven organisation – we are all human so let’s be the best we can. And you never know what opportunities come from keeping the communication channels open.
I’ve spoken a lot about the person who is leaving but what about those that remain? Well the same rules apply of being open and honest with them about what is happening.
Be prepared to offer support and listen to their concerns as redundancy can (an in my experience always) raises red flags. Have an open forum conversation with the team or offer to have individual chats to answer questions, help them manage the loss of a colleague and for many a friend.
Those that survive often feel guilty for doing so, angry, anxious and these feelings can escalate so ensure that you are working to keep them engaged and supported throughout the process.
All About You
We often lose sight of ourselves in this process as we are so concerned about the individual and the effect this will have on the rest of our team. It is vital that we are giving ourselves self-care throughout the process. To do this build up your resilience and inner strength with confidence coaching or have a resilience talk / workshop for yourself and your team.
Ask for support from your company to help you manage the process and your own feelings.
Do you need support for a redundancy? If so, get in contact with Coach Kate today.