Handling department cutbacks
No matter how you look at it if you have to handle department cutbacks you are going to end up laying off some employees, but keeping others. In fact when it comes to managing a business laying employees off is one of the hardest things that you are going to have to do. Not to mention that is going to be hard on the employees that you have to lay off as well, even if the main reason is because of budget cuts.
But the truth of the matter is when it comes to department cutbacks and layoffs there is no easy way to deliver the news. But there are some things that you can keep in mind when you are delivering the news so that you can make sure that it is delivered in both a compassionate and direct way.
Make sure that you are fully prepared when you are delivering the news. The reason for this is that preparation is key to successfully delivering this kind of message. When you are delivering the message you want to make sure that you include certain things. Important parts of this preparation include identifying the most appropriate time and place to deliver the news, anticipating the range of emotional reactions you might encounter (both your own and the employees), and making sure you have a script prepared of your key messages.
You also want to make sure that you plan your key messages out ahead of time that way you are not fumbling around looking for something to say. Keep in mind that the key messages are something that is designed to make the employee feel better about being laid off, but they are still going to be upset because they are getting laid off. Your key messages might include the following:
- I recognize that this news comes as a shock to you and that this decision will be difficult to fully comprehend.
- There are no good ways to deliver bad news so I want to be as sensitive to your needs as possible.
- I imagine that this news is quite upsetting to you. Is there anyone that you would like to talk to/call?
You also want to make sure that you are very clear about the next steps of the lay off. Basically you want to include lay off dates, status of insurance, and other important information to the employee when you are laying them off. In fact it is best that you also prepare the important dates in writing as well as verbally that way there can be no discrepancies later on.
Make sure that you are not dominating the discussion. Basically you are going to want to make sure that you are given the employee plenty of chances to talk. But when they are talking you want to make sure that you are listening carefully to what the employee has to say.
If you think that the employee is going to react in a bad manner, either hostile or threatening, you want to make sure that you have some kind of a safety plan in place. This plan should include notifying security and making sure that another manager is going to be there in case you need help. You also want to make sure that you give plenty of thought to any other security related issues, such as computers, that might come up.
You also want to make sure that you think about your own reactions to the employee's reactions. You want to make sure that no matter what is said or what you are accused of doing that you do not respond in a defensive manner towards the employee. But you also want to keep in mind what your role in the layoff decision was and how you felt about it, in addition to what you plan on sharing with your employees about how you feel.