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How to Tell People You've Terminated Their Colleagues   


It’s never going to be an easy conversation. But with COVID-19 affecting so many businesses, “I’m sorry, we’ve had to let some people go” is a conversation that’s happening a lot.


And when people are working remotely, the potential for awkwardness and bad feeling increases exponentially. Here’s what you need to know to get it right.


Communicate early


Teams that have lost members should be hearing about it from you – not from the people who’ve just got the boot, who are unlikely to tell the story in a way that reflects well on you. Make sure you let the people who are being laid off know first, then immediately break the news to the team..


Be professional


Especially if you’re having to break the news to your direct reports in a close-knit team, you may be as upset as they are, so plan what to say beforehand. Be compassionate and respectful, but also keep it professional.


Lay out the essential facts in simple terms first: employees will want to know clearly what the situation is and how it could affect them. If there might be more redundancies to come, be transparent and set realistic expectations.


Most importantly, explain how these tough decisions were founded on the core values and mission of the business, and how they’ll help the company to stabilise and recover.


Pick the right channels


If your team is working from home, remember there’s a lot of background noise in online communication, so make sure an important message like this doesn’t get lost in the hubbub. Set time aside for 1:1 calls to answer any questions and avoid staff jumping to missed conclusions. Following that up with a team video call will help your remaining workers feel like a team and give them a chance to ask any extra questions.


Be aware of informal conversations and ready to join in


No matter how you handle it, people are going to talk. Don’t silence these conversations, and don’t just contradict people without evidence, but do join in and clarify misunderstandings where you can offer facts to back up your points.


Be available


Make sure you’re easily reachable in the hours and days after delivering the news. Studies show that when leaders are more visible, it creates a sense of calm, reason and solidarity with employees. People are going to be worried about their own jobs, so make sure they know you’re there for them – and if you have an employee assistance programme, remind them that’s there for them too.

Posted by: Morgan Spencer