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Are you managing colleague redundancies? 8 Top Tips

As the furlough scheme comes to an end, or at least this version of it, I'm being contacted by managers and HR professionals seeking to support the people they are "having to let go."  I applaud any organisation that wants to do the best for their people and create an ending on good terms. So, I create support packages to suit requirements and budget.

But, what about you - the one managing "the project", having to have the conversation and sometimes being faced with your own position disappearing too?

During my years as an HR Business Partner I was involved in many restructures both from a "managing the project" point of view, and, being personally affected.  I lost count of the number of times I had to reapply for my job.  After the financial crash, it became an annual time of stress as redundancies and restructures became more frequent. Whilst we were very well supported with policy and process training and guidelines, having that difficult conversation or supporting Local Directors as they made the announcements, were events that often led to a restless sleep the night before.

I've created my top tips to support managers who find themselves in this situation:

1.  Do your homework - make sure you know what the process is, the timescales, the organisation's message as to why this is happening and who is available to support you as the initial consultation and ongoing process unfolds.  Be clear on what support the organisation is offering to those affected:  those at risk, those being made redundant and redundancy survivors.

2.  Decide how you will respond to questions - in the initial announcement there is often the opportunity for those affected to ask immediate questions.  Are there any that you can forsee?  What will be your response?  How will you handle those questions that you do not have the answer to yet?

3.  Know that any negative, emotional reaction is not about you - you could be the focus of backlash and cynicism simply because of your role.  Remember this is an organisational decision and your role is to support your people through it.  You may think "Sally is likely to react badly"  "Sam will probably be angry" "Muz will be ok as he's been wanting to retire for ages"- that may well be what happens, but also be prepared for the unexpected.

4.  Learn and brush up your resilience knowledge and strategies - you may have to dig deep.  What will you do if you find yourself becoming overwhelmed, stressed or upset?

5.  Manage this project with utmost priority.  People's lives are being affected.  Escalate any bottlenecks and work with the project team to manage the challenges.  Keep your promises.

6.  Remain as objective and impartial as you can throughout.  Don't be drawn into speculative conversations based on rumour or personal opinion

7.  Practice saying key messages out loud (where you can't be overheard of course)  You may even want to role play some of the 1:1 conversations with a trusted peer who is also carrying these out, your HR contact, or there's always me.

8.  Consider how you will manage the transition and implement any changes to the way you, your team and the organisation will be working after this restructure has taken place.

and finally, do not try and deal with this on your own.  Remember you are human, you have thoughts and feelings too and you need an outlet.


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