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Walking the redundancy tightrope


TightropeIf you’re an HR professional and redundancies are on the cards, it’s not always the greatest job in the world. But what happens when one of the redundancies is your role? Hilary Jeanes advises on how to handle this difficult situation.

It can be a very challenging situation – managing the redundancy programme for your organisation whilst facing redundancy yourself. You need to ensure that the redundancy programme is implemented effectively, that you are communicating the right messages to those you want to retain whilst staying motivated yourself. How do you cope with walking the tightrope?

To manage this tricky situation in a positive way you need to get the job done whilst investing time and effort in being clear about what you want from your next career move. At work – focus on the short term and remain professional. Easier said than done? Here’s how:

  • Remain objective and keep your emotions firmly under control. This way you will be able to continue doing your job in a professional way, and keep your feelings about your personal situation from affecting your work. If you find this too difficult, ask for immediate release.

  • Identify what your priorities are. This will make it easier for you to be objective. You can then focus on delivering these. You will want to maintain your positive track record in the remaining time you are with the organisation. Communicating the benefits of working for the organisation to employees who are not directly affected is as equally important as handling the redundancy process fairly.

  • Maintain your independence and avoid being influenced negatively by others – particularly those feeling bitter or angry about their own situation.

  • Remain positive about the organisation, especially if you are in a leadership role. Empathise by acknowledging the situation, but avoid getting drawn into gossip or criticism.

  • Change the habit of a lifetime – put yourself first. If you have a tendency to work long hours, reduce them to a reasonable level – even to your contracted hours. Now is the time to focus on what you need from the situation – whilst fulfilling your outstanding obligations to your current employer – so that you can leave on a positive note.

  • Be sure to offer support to employees facing redundancy and take full advantage of those benefits yourself. This includes outplacement, especially if it’s a while since you updated your CV or had interview practice from the other side of the table. You aren’t being selfish – you are setting a good example to others.

  • Sharpen your skills – if there are still training opportunities available in your organisation which could be of benefit to you, take advantage of them. Maybe you could pick up a few tips on presentation skills, for example, which would stand you in good stead for future interviews.

  • Ask your best contacts in the organisation for feedback. Take what’s useful and ignore the rest. Ask them for recommendations to their contacts, for a reference – or both.

From a personal perspective, consider the long term and how to work towards achieving it:

  • Get support to help you manage your feelings and focus on what you want to do next. You are used to focusing on others – now is the time to concentrate on you and what you want. Outplacement counsellors can help you with this. Better still, find a coach to work with.

  • Set aside time to work on what is important to you in your next job. Job hunting takes time and effort and the more you put in, the more quickly you are likely to be successful. Take advantage of any time off offered by your employer to spend time thinking, meet up with contacts or do some research.

  • Get clear on what your career goals are. What would you like to be doing in 10 years time? This will help you identify what you want from your next job and search for the ‘right’ job rather than just ‘another’ job. What type of organisation do you want to work for? What are your strengths and how could you use them effectively in your next role? What skills or experience might help your career look more rounded e.g. if you’ve always worked in operational roles, now might be the opportunity to get some strategic experience.

  • Resurrect your network. Contact people you know – including former bosses and colleagues. Meet up for coffee and let them know what you are looking for or ask their advice about future opportunities.

  • Consider taking a break before you start whatever you do next and begin planning for that. A former neighbour of mine – who seemed to change jobs every couple of years – used to take at least a three-month break before starting a new one. It enabled him to relax and do things he would not otherwise have been able to do so easily, like take a long holiday. He started his new job with his batteries recharged, the experience of his former employer behind him and raring to go with the new one.

Last, and perhaps most important of all, recognise the opportunity that this presents – remember that old adage ‘as one door closes, another one opens’. So many people say that this is true for them. In a few months time you could be saying this too. Good luck.

Hilary Jeanes of Coaching for HR focuses on supporting HR leaders to achieve their goals. Visit her website at

One Response

  1. I’ve Been There, Done That
    My government agency (Australia) was abolished and as an HR consultant for a number of offices, I had to help the reallocation of staff to eight other government agencies. My reallocation was to a department I didn’t like, in a job for which I had no interest and so I took long service leave while waiting for a voluntary redundancy.

    I was offered a job in the United Arab Emirates while on LSL, so I simply jumped on a jet and spent the best three years of my working life teaching business and computing to UAE national students at a delightful place called Al Ain.

    My payout came through and now, back in Australia, I’m living happy ever after.

    When one door shuts, another opens is indeed a truism.

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