Brain Food: Do it right - Letting people go

Know where you stand. Understand fully the rules and legal obligations of employment law and you'll minimise the risk of a tribunal. Even if you'd win in the end, you'll want to avoid the process.

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Make sure it's necessary. If you're making redundancies for financial reasons, consider your alternatives, such as amending overtime or offering sabbaticals. Remember: losing experience will cost the firm.

Tell the right people, in the right order. The news absolutely has to come from you. Beware the reach of the rumour mill.

Do it properly. Firing people is unpleasant, but it's part of what you're paid for. Don't do a Peter Guild. The furniture firm laid off staff by text, telling them to 'pass it on'. Offer consultation and take people through the process.

Say it straight. Being vague is as bad as being brutal. Make sure your message is understood. Don't try to stay friends: promising to take them back when things pick up is asking for trouble. Still ...

Don't make enemies. You never know when your paths will cross again.

Turn up for an interview in 10 years and the employee you so insensitively let go may be on the panel.

Manage the fallout. A close team will be upset by the loss of a member.

Explain why the sacking was necessary, and this should ensure the commitment and enthusiasm of your team in the future.


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