How to Handle a Layoff – Be Specific

December 24th, 2008 by lewis

The Wall Street Journal has an excellent article offering tips on how employers should handle a layoff.  Out of the three tips, “Say the right things,” is the most important.  All too often, managers are vague about the circumstances. Sometimes, the managers find it awkward to discuss a sensitive topic; other times, many assume it is not necessary to divulge this information.

But everyone wants to know why something happened and being specific lends credibility to the company’s actions.  If you can’t articulate why something happens (or if you can articulate it, but the reasoning doesn’t make sense), perhaps you need to reconsider the layoff.  If  you can explain it well, not only does it justify the layoff, but it will also help the employee overcome the disappointment and move on.
If the termination is related to a performance problem, the article makes a great point:

And don’t bring up problems with an employee’s performance if you haven’t discussed them before.

If there are performance issues, don’t wait to raise them on the day of the layoff.  Surprises are sometimes good, but in this situation, it’s not.

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