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Delivery methods Featured

9:42am EDT July 22, 2002

Profits are down, your company’s overstaffed and hard choices have to be made. Layoffs, though painful, are the best way to trim overhead.

So how to do you deliver the bad news to your staff without causing an employee revolt?

“There is a direct correlation between the way employees get on with their lives and the ways news is communicated,” explains Amy Rogat, senior vice president of Russell Rogat/Lee Hect Harrsion, a consulting firm that helps employees and employers work through changes such as massive job layoffs. “The goal is to make it less painful, because there’s a tremendous impact on those people leaving and those people who remain.”

Rogat suggests three rules for those who have the not-so-friendly task of being the messenger of bad news:

No small talk. “Don’t even say good morning,” she says. “Just say, ‘I have some bad news.’ Brevity is important and get it over with quickly.”

Write out the benefits. “After the bad news is delivered, little else registers with the people involved,” she says. “Write out all the benefits the discharged employee will receive so that everything is clear.”

Avoid putting a positive spin on the situation. The bottom line, says Rogat, is that there is nothing positive for the people who are most affected by job loss. “Give them the news, then make sure to provide them with information or services to help them move on.”

How to reach: Russell Rogat/Lee Hecht Harrison, (440) 331-4400

Dustin Klein