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REdundancy - part 2 - the manager

As the Australian market shifts and changes, competitors enter the market and automation replaces roles, there will be redundancies. My last blog spoke to the experience of redundancy as an employee, this reflection, will be from the role of a leader and a manager.

I have always been an inclusive, fair and protective leader. For those that have worked with me know that as I leader I can be tough but I am fiercely protective of my team. In fact one boss said to me, “You should just go and have children soon as possible; you are just so nurturing”. This obviously infuriated me at the time but since becoming a step mum I can see the characteristics he was talking about – nurturing, protective, empowering and bias towards my own. These qualities can make a great leader, as long as you are aware of where your bias might betray you. When it came to making my team redundant my nurturing and protectiveness came through in lioness form but I was aware and ensured I managed myself well. As best I could.

So when you are told that your well performing, very capable, respected team is being made redundant, the shock usually comes with either a fight, freeze or flight reaction. I actually ended up in fight mode, as my protectiveness, values around fairness and my desire to keep the business performing well, all kicked in.

So what does fighting look like? It was about presenting all the evidence as to why this team was successful and should remain doing their roles. It is a business discussion about numbers, results, project deliveries, stakeholder feedback and people capabilities. It is a discussion about the customer and business risk of dismantling the team and losing all the momentum and knowledge. Although there was no denying the discussions and points I was making, there was still a singled minded view on the physical location of the team. That I could not argue with.

So when I realised the fight was lost and the change was going to happen, I took the following approach with the team;

1.      Keep working but make some time for your future

There was a fine line between doing the work that needed to be done and making sure the team had some time for themselves to plan for their future. We were really busy but as their leader I absolutely had to give each person time to plan for their future. Through openly discussing the balance within the team, each person was able to balance his or her own workload and time out for planning.

2.      Be respectful of the organisational change

My team was shocked and angry about the change. I did not want to dismiss their feelings, so I used our weekly meetings to make time and space for open, non-filtered discussions. It was about listening and trying not to let the irritation seep into our workplace. It was important their great work and their brands were protected, whilst listening to their concerns and worries.

3.      Prepare and handover your work with effort and integrity

Our handover to the replacing team was really professional. It was respectful, clear, transparent and conducted with integrity. We had worked so hard to create great momentum and great delivery for the customer and our stakeholders, we did not want to see that fail. By conducting our business in this way, it made the team feel really proud and respectful of their work and their contribution.

4.      Take time out to prepare your CV, go to interviews, network and talk to recruiters.

Your people need to plan for their future and so it is important to give them whatever they need to feel good about their next step. As a manager, you need to make space for them, coach them and help them get ready for the change.

5.      Talk, listen, celebrate and support each other

We talked, listened and celebrated a lot. We listened to each other, we supported each other when the days were bad but importantly we also celebrated. As a team we created lots of opportunity to celebrate our achievements as individuals and as a team. We laughed a lot and I spent lots of time with each person in the team listening and creating positive feedback for the individual and their work.

6.      Seek support from me or others inside and outside the organisation

When you and the team are being made redundant, times can be really challenging. When your team is being made redundant and you are not, times can be even more challenging. Reaching out for some support either through a coach, Employee Assistance Program (EAP) or the outplacement company is really important. As the manager of a team, there is a great sense of responsibility, so please ensure you engage in support to help you through the process and aftermath of feelings.

Being made redundant is difficult, being the manager and leader of people losing their jobs is also an enormous challenge. Being a good leader can be difficult when there are feelings of injustice but staying present with your team, maintaining a great work ethic and celebrating the achievements of everybody, can help encourage a positive outcome to a tricky situation. Having experienced redundancy as an employee and a manager, I know for sure having a coach throughout that period made me more aware, more empathetic and much more present for the team.

For a further conversation about coaching, please contact me: louise.bodlander@llbc.com.au or my contact page. 

December 2017

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