Monday, May 28, 2012

Job loss from the manager's perspective...

Laying off an employee is often a difficult experience for managers. It is a painful task which can put them through a whole range of emotions (e.g., sadness, relief, disappointment, uncertainty, powerlessness, anger, fear, etc.). To deal with this experience the best way possible, it is important to prepare properly before announcing the news, gather information and understand the hardship that may be caused, both to you the manager and to the employees losing their job.

Here are a few strategies that can help you announce a job loss to the person who will be leaving and to the rest of the team.

Announcing the news to departing employees

It is important to always show empathy and compassion when informing employees that they will be losing their job. Garderet (2005) has developed a model to guide physicians who have to tell patients that they have cancer. We have adapted that model to a job-loss situation:

Announcing a job loss

  • Prepare for the meeting: allow sufficient time, find a quiet, discreet location, announce the news in person, etc.
  • Understand what the person already knows about the situation.
  • Provide information in a brief, concise and encouraging way.
  • Respond with empathy to the person's emotional reactions.
  • Summarize what was said, and talk about the next stages.

Announcing the news to the employees who are staying

The employees who survive staffing cuts are also sometimes vulnerable to stress, fear and uncertainty similar to what is experienced by employees losing their job. Their confidence in their managers is sometimes tested. The following guidelines can help prevent this type of situation, and acknowledge what they experience when co-workers lose their jobs. When informing the rest of the team that a colleague is losing his or her job, it is important to:

  • Be frank, concise and respectful. Understand that employees can experience different emotions and that the situation can have an impact on their own work (e.g., division of tasks).
  • Provide information: offer clear and accurate information, answer questions, and communicate regularly, clearly and honestly, whenever possible...
  • Demonstrate fairness: show the employees that the decisions were made in a fair and equitable manner.

The way the announcement is made to those losing their jobs and the way this situation is managed will affect the remaining employees' view of their manager and have an impact on their confidence and the perception they have of their workplace. These are difficult but important times for the entire team.

Valérie Bourgeois-Guérin
Ph.D. candidate
Y2 Consulting Psychologists

Please contact us with any questions and/or comments. Thank you!

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