Conducting a lay off requires preparation, and Careerminds would like to take the guess work out of it. In our Management Notification series, we are concentrating on the prep work for layoff meetings. These situations need to be handled professionally and thoughtfully. A layoff, whether expected or not, is a hard time for the company and the employee. Being prepared lightens the load for all parties. Before you go into room and address that employee, here are some things to consider.
Have Your Information Gathered
There's nothing quite like holding a meeting and looking like an ignorant chump. Simply being the messenger isn't enough at this point. You should have a strong dialogue and arsenal of answers to whatever they might ask. Before holding the meeting, ask yourself, “Do I completely understand the business reasons for the layoff including: Why the organization is eliminating positions? Why this position is being eliminated? Am I prepared to explain these reasons to the employee?” These are questions that they will most likey want answers to.
Additionally, make sure to have read all of the official internal and external announcements. Be familiar with the wording and consider what information is left out. It's not hard to figure out what information they will be on the hunt for, so gather it and be ready to present.
Lastly, either prepare or get familiar with the schedule for the day. Know exactly who you will be holding meetings with, what they do and how long they've been with the company. The more you know about these employees, the better. Also, if you don't know what's coming next, how are you supposed to tell them?
Give yourself some extra time to be fully prepared for these meetings. Review the agenda and know the plan. Each meeting should be fully structured down to the minute. This situation is awkward enough without pauses and luls in the conversation while you get your ducks in a row.
Part of the structuring of these meetings includes rehersing what you're going to say. When emotions are running high and nerves are getting the best of you, a rehersed dialogue will come to you. If you haven't done this part of the prep, the meeting could very well get the best of you. When going over your planned dialgue consider potential reactions. What will you do if they start to cry, fight, or go dead silent? During this process, always keep a foot in their world and treat them as you would want to be treated.
Things to Avoid
- This isn't up for discussion. This is a permanent decision that has been made and there isn't room for bargaining.
- Never allow the meeting to stall on the topic of performance.
- Never go on the defense. This isn't personal and your actions and words should reflect that.
- Don't let this elevate to an arguement. It takes two to tango and you're not the one losing your job. Keep a cool head.
- Never say anything that leads to this being a personal issue. Dont's say things like, “I don't want to do this but...”, “I know how you feel”, or “I'm sorry”.
Yes, it is hard to conduct a lay off, it's hard to be the face of what could be hard-times, but this isn't about you. You're not the one losing your job, and yours aren't the feelings that matter right now. If you need some support or emotional outlet, this employee is not it. A partner, the gym or a cheeseburger will have to do. Keep yourself out of it. In the first quarter of 2013, 914 extended mass layoff events involved 154,374 worker separations, both measures down from first quarter 2012 levels. Layoffs are still very much a reality and being prepared for one is essential.