I’m working with a management group at present where there have been a number of retrenchments and we all agree there is no easy way to do it. The key is to show respect for the person and their feelings and allow them to be shocked and hurt. I’m not sure the value of explaining “why” the role can no longer exist, because the ‘why’ is only ever in the organisation’s interests.
It reminds me of the “bad” ole days when I was retrenched twice in two years. The first was known well ahead of time, in fact they wanted me to go so they wouldn’t have to make a payout and I was too young and green to know my rights.
But the second was a complete shock. I had worked hard on a merger only to be told the night before that there was no role for me in the new line up the next day. Yes, he said kind words, and yes he explained the company’s position but ….. “its not fair” I wanted to yell, as I was shuffled off home with a cheque and told don’t come back tomorrow.
These days large organisations have outplacement services but for smaller organisations that often isn’t possible.
As a colleague or friend, or a great manager, the best thing you can do is to sit with your and their discomfort and just listen, not so solve, but so that the person feels heard and respected.