Here are a few golden rules for HR professionals, line managers and impacted staff on the smart way to behave during a lay-off / redundancy meeting.
For Human Resources
1. Try to ensure that the witless line manager who will be accompanying you at the redundancy meeting remains focused, and preferably keeps (usually his) mouth shut.
2. Make sure that there is a recent photograph of the member of staff you are laying off in the personnel file in front of you. Do not rely on the line manager to be able to successfully identify members of his own team. Laying off the wrong person can be embarrassing, not to mention a little unfair to the person incorrectly culled.
For Line Managers
1. Avoid platitudes like: 'It happens to the best of us' (it doesn't!), 'It isn't personal (it is!) and 'This was a difficult decision' (it probably wasn't).
An 'All the best', accompanied by a wave as the 'victim' heads for the door probably won't go down well either.
2. Avoid physical contact with all staff members. Putting your arm around a canny canned female may give rise to an expensive harassment claim.
3. Try and remember that you are not Simon Cowell. Quips like 'all your get-up-and-go just got-up-and-went' and 'you've clearly had a 'charisma bypass' will not be appreciated by the employee being axed.
4. Try to avoid nervous laughter or winking (why do line managers always wink after delivering bad news ?).
For Impacted Staff
1. Do not beg. It does your street cred no good at all to be seen on your knees crying. Word will get out.
2. If you have something on your boss (and the balls to use it), now will be your last chance to do so.
3. Resist the temptation to gloat that your prayers have been answered as you have another job offer in your pocket anyway, and will be glad of the extra exit cash. Just take it on the chin, chuckle and run to the bank.
4. The threat of (or actual) bodily violence usually won't alter the decision to lay you off, so is probably not a good idea. And remember, the bank's security personnel are usually big fat blokes for good reason.
image: © Paul Kline