Four steps to a smoother separation conversation

Let’s face it; no one enjoys sitting an employee down and telling them they no longer have a place in the company because their position has been made redundant. Unplanned redundancy conversations can be hard and challenging, and you can encounter some pretty big emotions.

While we often recognise the difficulty these conversations have on transitioning employees in the business world, we don’t always remember the effect it has on the person who has to deliver the conversation. To help you and your notifying managers, here are four steps to a smoother separation conversation.

Step 1 - Take the time to prepare

Like any change activity, the success of the separation conversation is dependent upon your level of preparation. With preparation, you can give your transitioning employees the support and closure they need, and make the separation conversation more comfortable for you or your manager.

Take the time to think about what needs to be organised before separation day. If needed, talk to HR or your employment lawyer about what should be said in the meeting and arrange for your outplacement partner to help your transitioning staff immediately on the day. These preliminary steps will ensure that the day runs as smoothly as possible and will help to minimise the anxiety you may be experiencing.

Step 2 - Get the message right

As part of your preparation, you also need to establish what you will say. You want to be clear, factual and objective but without being cold. Unplanned redundancies can be traumatic for transitioning employees, and they deserve to be handled with sensitivity and compassion.

It is also important to separate the person from the role, as HR and your employment lawyer will explain, a genuine redundancy is when a person’s job doesn’t need to be done by anyone. It is not about their work performance or any other factor, so it is essential that no reference to this be made.

Genuinely acknowledging the experience, expertise and efforts of your transitioning employees and showing gratitude for their commitment to your company should also be a part of the conversation.

Step 3 - Engage your outplacement provider early

While your outplacement provider will be engaged primarily to help mitigate your risk and transition your employees, they can also provide valuable advice on handling the separation conversation and managing the wellbeing of transitioning employees.

Talk to them early in the process to help schedule separation day in a way that will be most beneficial to your transitioning employees and reduce the stress for everyone involved.

Step 4 - Organise support for you and your remaining team 

Organising support for your transitioning team is a given, but they aren’t the only ones who will be affected. Whoever conducts the separation meeting, you or your managers may also need support or at the very least a debrief depending on how the conversation goes.

The remaining team should also have support to ensure your organisation gets back to business as usual as quickly as possible. In addition to losing colleagues and experiencing survivor’s guilt, your remaining staff can also feel the stress and pressure of an increased workload with fewer people available to help.

Need help planning the separation conversation and providing outplacement to make the transition easier? Call the transition experts, Turning Point Partners today on 1300 27 83 45 or email friendlyteam@turningpointpartners.com.au.

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