“John Smith is no longer with the company. Please forward all phone calls to me.”
This is not one of them.
In one of my first jobs after college, the company I worked for would send out emails like this every time someone got fired or left. No discussion. No explanation. Simple and cold.
The problem is that even your best employee inserts their name into John Smith’s place. No one wants all their time, relationships, and energy summed up with the simple phrase “John or Jane Smith is no longer with the company.”
Most jobs come to an end, but we all want to believe that we’d be missed, celebrated, and respected.
It’s an emotional situation.
If someone leaves, is fired, or laid off, it should be traumatic to you as the leader. After all, it probably means you failed.
You hired the wrong person, didn’t build the relationship, or made decisions (or didn’t make decisions) that led to a need for downsizing. Obviously, people sometimes do unexpected things that make everyone feel good about a firing, but most times a firing ought to be the toughest thing you do as a leader.
But not for everyone else.
Those who are left behind need to feel like they are safe, appreciated, and respected.
Here are 5 things to do after a business breakup:
1) Be Honest
Don’t say much more than the basics, but what you do say should be honest. When you answer questions tell the truth. It always gets out and you don’t want to ruin your trust with the remaining team members.
2) Be Respectful
Focus on the positive things the former team member did. Be thankful for the good things and do not bash them. How you speak of the former team member is how others will picture you treating them if they’re gone.
3) Talk about the Future
Just like any relationship, people know that a relationship is intact when you talk about the future of it. Understandably, some of your team may be nervous if you let someone go, so it’s important to reassure them that the future is fine and they are part of it.
4) Pay Attention
If one of your team members is close to the former employee, make sure you pay special attention to them. Pull them aside to discuss the situation and ask them to share their feelings with you. Listen.
5) Be Human
Let your team know that you have feelings. Don’t be a strong leader, be a human one. You just used the big stick, now it’s time for the quiet voice. It’s time to share some emotions and make people comfortable again with you. The more they know of you, the safer they feel.
Whatever you do, do not treat it like a regular day. It is not. It is the day you lost a part of your team.
How you act will show the world what you think of your team.
Have a great night!
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