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5 Ways to Cope When Making Someone Redundant

It is never easy to deliver the news to a stellar employee that their job simply no longer exists due to cost control measures. It is even more difficult having to deliver this conversation over and over again when the company undergoes a mass layoff.

There can be a sense of guilt, grief and frustration as the bearer of this news, and over time this can certainly take its toll. Here are five ways to help you cope when making someone redundant.

Prepare Yourself In Advance

Preparation is key - both emotionally and operationally. Ensure that you have a clear understanding of why this conversation is taking place and what measures your company has in place to support employees who are being made redundant.

Write down what you need to say in clear and succinct language, then read it aloud to yourself. Consider how you would feel if someone was delivering this news to you; this helps you navigate the difficult conversation from a place of empathy and compassion.

It is also vital to prepare yourself emotionally. There is nothing that can ultimately mitigate the emotionality of this conversation and the toll it has on you, but having an awareness of the emotions that may arise will help you brace yourself for any eventuality.

Communicate Confidently and Clearly

First, recognise what you can and cannot control. You can control how you deliver the news and how you converse with the employee on the other end. However, you ultimately cannot control their reaction.

Therefore, it is important to convey the news rather than simply tell it. What we mean by this is that your body language, eye contact and tone need to match the situation. Additionally, try your best to share the news with compassion and clarity. Make space for their reactions and ask them how they’re feeling, even if you are scared of the response. Allow for silence while they digest the information and don’t rush the employee for any kind of response or reaction. In sum, engage in a dialogue about the news rather than deliver a one-sided speech.

Practice Empathy

It’s never easy to feel like the villain. You are likely to receive a backwash of emotions ranging from anger, sadness and shock. It is a difficult space to occupy professionally and it can leave you feeling like an emotional sponge. However, practising empathy and self-awareness at this time is crucial.

Firstly, recognise that you are with this person at a single moment in time. That is to say, you are with them in the present moment where they are receiving shocking, potentially life-changing news. However, you don’t yet know what lies in their future. It is likely that they will be able to bounce back as redundancies tend to force people to re-evaluate their careers, skills and priorities.

Secondly, be aware that they may have other things going on in their life which amplify their reaction to the news. Odds are, employees will have a myriad of other aspects of their life that this redundancy will affect, and so it’s only natural that they will feel fear and loss of control. At that moment, it is important to show them that you understand they might be feeling powerless and vulnerable.

Set Appropriate Boundaries & Practice Self-Awareness

At Untapped.AI, we are strong advocates of boundaries. They are not a sign of being uncaring, in fact, quite the opposite. It can be natural to want to help an employee as much as possible. However, overextending too much (e.g., promising that you will try to arrange an internal job switch) can easily backfire.

This is where self-awareness is key. If you know yourself to be someone who can have a saviour complex, then being aware of this early on and clarifying your own boundaries are essential. Similarly, if you recognise that you tend to detach in emotionally charged situations, this is a chance to explore whether you can find a middle ground.

Seek Support from Peers

Making others redundant is arguably one of the most difficult aspects of working in an HR or People function and it can be incredibly isolating. That is why we strongly encourage seeking support from peers. While it is useful and also recommended to let your friends and family know that you are entering difficult territory at work, no one can understand your position better than someone who’s in the same boat as you.

Create space to debrief with colleagues to share the experience with one another and assess whether there’s a need for additional support in your team during this time. Redundancies can have a huge impact internally as it relates to remaining employees, therefore it is important to get all hands on deck where possible.

Redundancies are not an ideal situation for anyone. However, learning how to handle the process and the ripple effects are crucial to remaining emotionally and professionally intact. With self-awareness at the core of our business, we know how crucial it is to develop your self-awareness muscle, particularly during challenging times. We hope you found this article helpful. If you’re interested in learning more about how we can help your organisation navigate tricky times, head over to our website to book a free call with us today.

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