Leading a redundancy meeting

Advice for managers preparing for redundancy meetings

Different organisations adopt different approaches to informing staff that they are at risk – it can be by email, at a group briefing or at a 1:1 meeting. Leading a redundancy meeting is difficult for everyone concerned. It will not be something you will do frequently, if at all. But as a leader, manager, or supervisor you need to invest time to get it right.

This information has been written for you, but you should remember the most important person to think about in all of this is the person you are having the redundancy meeting with. This is never going to be easy, but the following things may help everyone involved:

1. Structure – knowing what you are going to say and in what order helps you feel more confident and helps the person follow the content more easily. The WASP structure can help:

  • Welcome – thank them for coming, appreciating this may be the first time they have been back onsite, or in a more formal digital space.
  • Ask* – do they understand why they have been invited to the meeting? Have they received all the relevant information they should have? Are they able to proceed?
  • Supply – outline the structure of the meeting, the key information to share – business case, redundancy policy, consultation, timeline, available support etc.
  • Part – thank them for coming, ask if there are any questions, and potentially ask them to outline their own next steps. Summarise the information you have already shared in the Supply part of the conversation and hand over any printed information – for example Frequently Asked Questions or Business Case documents.

*Although you are likely to continue to ask about any questions, concerns after supplying information – this is very much a two-way meeting.

2. Script – having a clear script can help you find your words, it is often hard to when you are in an emotional space, and it ensures you are covering all the relevant information. It enables you to go back to specific points if you or they become distracted or explore different thoughts or reflections.

3. Pace – the information you will be sharing is likely to be complex and detailed. The person you are having a conversation with is likely to be emotional and this may affect their ability to follow in detail. You can support this by slowing your pace down – enabling the person to follow the different points. Being mindful of your pace is important as you may, unconsciously be speaking too fast due to your adrenaline rush and the want to ‘get this over and done with’, because this is not a nice or enjoyable thing to do.

4. Silence and pausing – both are important, not only when you are asking questions – enabling them to formulate them without interruption, but also in the case whereby the person becomes emotional. Being emotional communicates that this is important to them and you should respect their right to get upset and appreciate the role you have, as a leader, manager, or supervisor, holding this space for them.

5. Time – you need to build in enough time in the meeting for genuine exchange and support, and between meetings in case the meeting overruns or you need time between.

6. Respect – is critical. Their response to this information is their response. They may be angry, frustrated, or sad. These are their feelings, and you should ensure that you do not diminish them by providing a silver lining or a solution. Platitudes or reassurances are not helpful at this point, but empathy, space and signposting are.

7. Ask – in line with the structure, and potentially the approach your organisation is taking for relevant information or questions they may have. You would hope that the preparation, scripting, and structure means that all questions have been thought through and answered but this is not always the case.

8. Handouts – anything you talk through with them face to face should be followed up with a handout or in writing/email. They may not be able to keep up and may want something to refer to after the meeting or briefing; or to share with others – union representatives, Citizens Advice etc. With that in mind sending a digital copy of any materials after the meeting can also be helpful.

9. Inclusion – is always an important part of being a leader, manager, or supervisor and this remains the same in these meetings. Being mindful, supportive, and responsive to differing needs is critical – presentation of information, processing times and other access requirements should be standard good practice.

10. Note-taking – if the person asks you for any information or any questions that you don’t know the answers to, or questions that are not included in the FAQs – please write this information down so you can follow-up appropriately and do so.

11. Follow up – if you have invited them to contact you, ask questions and remain engaged then please honour that offer; equally if you have agreed to get more information for them then send it to them as soon as possible.

12. Signposting – there are a range of organisations that provide information and insight into how to have redundancy conversations:

Employment law is a reserved matter and so the advice from .gov – applies to all four nations.

13. Support – these conversations are not easy to have, they may too take a toll on your own wellbeing, so seek out support from your line manager or peers within the museum. Having these conversations can be a lonely place to be.

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