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Handling cutbacks

accountant37004036.jpgOne of the worst responsibilities you have as a manager is handling cutbacks. It is terrible to let a person know that they no longer have a job with your company and no matter how delicately you try to put it, someone is going to be hurt. Cutbacks aren’t too bad if you have some employees that are underperforming but it can be quite painful if you have to lay off some of your best employees due to budget cuts and a bad economy.

The first thing you need to recognize is that no matter how delicately you would like to handle cutbacks, there is no easy way to break the ice. You are going to deliver some bad news to your employees and its going to be hard. It is important that you keep your composure during the meeting, even if the employee becomes irrational. You don’t want to be rude, but you don’t want to break down in front of them as this is a big sign of weakness and you don’t want your other employees to see you this way.

The second thing you need to do is choose your timing wisely. Your employees will probably speculate about cutbacks if they have heard that the budget has been cut so you aren’t doing them any favors by making them sweat out their jobs until the end of the week. Although it may not be convenient to fire someone on a Tuesday, its better to get the job over and done with instead of dragging it out.

The third thing you need to do is talk to your employees in a private location. While you may need to have another manager in your office during the firing for security reasons, you don’t want to lay someone off in front of their co-workers. Even though they aren’t going to be working for you anymore, you don’t want to give them a second painful blow to their pride and self-confidence by firing them in front of a bunch of people that are going to keep their jobs.

The fourth thing you need to consider is the range of emotions that you are going to deal with. It’s hard for you to fire an employee, but no two people react the same. While one employee may bow out with dignity and their head held high, others may emotionally breakdown and cause a huge scene in the office. Make sure you prepare yourself to handle individuals that don’t take the bad news well. Talk to your Human Resources department to see if they can provide some counseling services and job referrals and recommendations for the individual. Make sure you emphasize that you have appreciated their hard work and you would like to keep them on as an employee but you just don’t have the funds available to do so. When you offer them some job referrals, you are at least giving them something else to look forward too even though they just received terrible news.

The fifth thing you need to do is write up a script of all the things you would like to say to this person. Try to compliment them and thank them for their dedication and devotion to the company and avoid looking chaotic and fumbling around what you need to say. The employee probably knows they are going to be laid off so you want to be clear and direct about your message instead of looking for the right thing to say as you are talking. Look for simple statements that will help them feel a little bit better about being laid off even if this is the worst news they have received in years.

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