Anger and Hostility – In this case the employee may show physical signs of anger such as a raised voice or threats, or you may observe changes in their demeanour. They may makes statements such as “do you think I’m going to accept this without a fight”. When subjected to anger and hostility, it is essential not to get drawn into justifying the situation, taking sides or launching into debate about past issues. Instead, let the employee express their anger and acknowledge it but concentrate on retaining your own composure. Look for openings to lead them towards learning what support will be made available to them.
Note: If at any time you feel unsafe, trust your instincts about whether you need to cease the meeting and leave the room. You may decide you only feel comfortable resuming the meeting with another person present.
Bargaining – You may hear “Can the decision be delayed a bit’ or “could I just take a pay cut or reduce my hours”. Engaging in any type of negotiation would likely give false hope, raise any number of inconsistencies and leave you wide open to difficulties with other employees later on. At the time it is important to
stress that all possible avenues for alternatives were investigated by the business and that the decision was not made lightly but it is final.
Relief and Acceptance – Normally seen in those who have been expecting a decision or where the process has been going on for a long time and where a lot of uncertainty has been present in the organisation. They may make statements such as “Well, I was expecting this” or “I’m glad the decision has been made – what now”. To confirm that this isn’t just a different form of shock or denial, probe gently and ensure that the message was heard and understood, lay out the necessary and subsequent actions and the availability of support structures open to them.
- Keep the meeting to the point – it should not exceed 15 minutes;
- Don’t engage in small talk – get straight to the point;
- Don’t deviate from the script, be consistent and confirm the decision is final;
- Emphasise that the ROLE, not the PERSON, is being made redundant;
- Be empathetic but in control. Be prepared to listen, and allow the employee to vent emotion;
- Don’t apologise, offer false hope, blame anyone else, or suggest that you know how they feel;
- Do not get drawn into an argument, or debate the finality of the decision; and DO NOT discuss any other factors as having contributed to the decision, such as the employee’s performance, attitude, behaviour, tenure or age.
Keep an eye out for part 3 of our blog series later this week where we look at how to manage the fallout; taking care of the exiting employee as well as those staff left behind.
Until then, Happy HR’ing.
Missed last week’s blog? Check it out here.