Managing a team through a round of redundancies is one of the most challenging parts of being a leader. There are some simple things you can do to manage more effectively through the redundancy process.
When a business is going through a difficult period, there’s nothing worse for morale than staff speculating about what may happen. This can lead to unnecessary anxiety and concern which will negatively impact motivation and productivity. Being as transparent as possible as early as possible about the changes that are coming will help to reduce the stories that circulate through your workforce.
During the initial business re-planning activity, consider all possible alternatives to redundancy. Some of your cost-savings may be made by using pay freezes or cuts, cuts to overtime, bonuses or other benefits, secondments to other companies, redeployment to other divisions, sabbaticals, reducing the use of contract staff. These measures may enable you to save more positions.
When redundancies or major restructuring is possible, staff can become anxious about the future and disengaged with their work. To help staff remain motivated and positive, ask for their input on the business issue, and really listen and consider their suggestions. You never know when someone who works for you might come up with an innovative idea that can make a difference.
When things are changing, whether slowly or quickly, it is important to communicate often, even if there isn’t much to say that is new. This will allow staff to feel that they are being kept in the loop and that nothing is happening behind their backs. As soon as possible after decisions are finalised, communicate to prevent the grapevine from going into overdrive.
Kubler’s Model of Change which was based on the grief change cycle is a useful tool to bear in mind when assessing the mood of your workforce. Individuals will move through the change curve at different speeds so it is important to meet them where they currently are, not where you might want them to be. Your job in managing teams effectively through redundancy is to help your staff on their journey. For staff who are being made redundant, the loss of their job can feel just like a bereavement and managers should be sensitive to this.
Coping with the loss of your job is even harder if you are lacking in up-to-date job-hunting skills. Provide your staff with support to help them get job-market ready and give them the confidence to move forward.
Survivor syndrome or as organisational psychologists coin it, “workplace survivor syndrome,” is a common problem for staff who remain after the redundancy process is over. This can lead to feelings of guilt and anger about colleagues who have lost their jobs. They may also be struggling with poor mental health from the stress of the redundancy process. You can support staff to maintain a positive mindset by engaging in empowering training programmes and one to one coaching which improve resilience, motivation, and productivity.
Employees who have been made redundant may be feeling lost, isolated, and struggling to move on. A good manager who values all staff members’ contributions, whether current or past, would take the time to check in with staff who were made redundant to see how they are coping. The human connection, even after the event, will go a long way to showing current and future employees that you are a company that cares about its staff.
Managing teams through redundancy is stressful for the managers as well as the staff. Make sure you know where to access support from within and outside your organisation. Perhaps take a positive mindset training course yourself or consider coaching as an effective space to explore, realign and redefine your own leadership goals.
Spend time reviewing the process with other managers and your team around 3 months after the event to look for ways to improve the process & communications – nothing ever goes exactly to plan in such emotionally charged circumstances.
Having to manage people during redundancy is far from easy, but you don’t need to over-complicate things.
Using these 10 simple tips, you can avoid many issues that may arise.