Career transition should never be an afterthought… for either party

Organisational Change
Paul Slezak

Last week we shared some guiding principles around remote restructuring – tips from our panel of experts who took part in our webinar addressing innovations in organisational transformation and best practices in remote restructuring.

One of the most important principles shared was around the idea of respect and dignity when it comes to letting someone go from your organisation.

I’ve been reflecting on this point quite a bit since the webinar given a few conversations I’ve had with both prospective clients and impacted employees over the past week.

It should never be a case of “better late than never”

Two organisations reached out to us the other day enquiring about our career transition programs. When I asked them when they were planning to communicate the news of the restructure to their teams, both contacts told me that those employees impacted by the changes had already left the organisation (one of them over a month ago).

I was really surprised – and on one of the video calls, the client clearly saw my reaction since he asked me what was wrong.

I explained that career transition should never be an afterthought.

You would never recruit someone into an organisation and a month after they start give them some kind of half-baked induction program, right?

When it comes to making someone’s position redundant, part of the ‘respect and dignity’ piece mentioned above, should ideally include providing them with a career coach immediately after the news is communicated. Not days after; not weeks after; and definitely not a month after. Immediately after – whether it’s in-person or on a video call depending on the situation and potential restrictions.

It should never be a case of self-service or ‘DIY’

On another follow-up call, I asked the contact when she was going to be communicating the news of the changes in her workplace.

This time I was even more surprised (lucky it was just a phone call so nobody could actually see the gobsmacked look on my face) when she said, “oh no … I’m the one finishing up … in an hour. I’ve been told to research potential career transition programs for myself”.

Sorry to be blunt, but nobody wants to be basically told, “you’re fired, so now go and find a program to help get yourself a new job”.

Put yourself in the shoes of your impacted employee(s) and once again, in order to impart some level of dignity and respect, have your career transition program lined up before you deliver the news of retrenchment to a team member.

Please don’t be afraid to ask for help

No, I’m not talking to the impacted employees here.

I’m talking to anyone who thinks that one day they may find themselves having to let someone go as a result of a restructure or organisational transformation.

Career transition partners are here to help you, too.

In order to be effective, separation conversations need to be carefully planned in advance. Having all your cards in a row, ducks lined up, or hymn sheets ready (whatever metaphor you can best relate to), will help protect your brand and reputation, not to mention reduce the risk of any potential litigation.

If you’re unsure of what to say or how to say it (or perhaps more importantly, how not to say it) when letting somebody go, the JobAccelerator team can provide you with change consultation along with a carefully crafted communication plan.

Of course, our expert coaches can also be available on-site or virtually to meet with individuals immediately following the redundancy messages to reduce negative attitudes and redirect their energy towards positive outcomes.

So please. Be prepared. Career transition should never be an afterthought. For either party.