When people are made redundant or let go without any prior warning, there is an understandable shock.
Along with shock comes a barrage of other emotions, fears, uncertainty and doubts.
I met with a few people this week, all of whom were laid off due to redundancies.
Whilst they will be fresh into the market as job seekers, they were largely in shock. Their confidence about their own abilities and how capable they might compete in the job market was one of their top concerns.
One of the people I met this week was an IT person who had withdrawn for 4 weeks after being laid off 6 weeks ago.
Her confidence was way down and she held deep and disempowering thoughts about her own professional capability.
Although her former employer took the time to explain that her redundancy was not due to her own performance – but was due to business circumstances – she still took it as such.
As HR Managers and Leaders of people, we need to be very aware of the message we impart when making people redundant.
Most of the time the shock of the news is so raw, that the message is not received.
Instead there is noise: made up of confusion, panic, fear, uncertainty and doubt.
Andrew O’Keeffe cites Joseph Le Doux’s research in which he lists four responses to bad news – such as being let go:
- Withdrawal – avoiding the danger or escaping from it
- Immobility – freezing
- Defensive Aggressive – appearing to be dangerous or fighting back
- Submission – appeasement
For the giver of bad news, the benefit of knowing that a range of response is natural, helps you avoid being unnerved by any emotional reaction that is appropriate for the moment.
In fact the appropriate emotional response will paradoxically give you the confidence that your intended message has been received.
However, when the appropriate emotional response to the bad news you are providing would normally be defensiveness, argument or tears and you don’t see anything resembling these emotions, then it pays for you to reassess what you said and how you said it. In this case, it probably means your message was missed.
Notwithstanding, any bad news needs to be carefully managed. It’s best to be clear, direct, yet compassionate, when giving any bad news.
Would you like to attend a webinar on letting people go appropriately?
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