Management | Collins McNicholas

Dealing With The Difficult Task of Making a Close Friend Redundant

Dealing With The Difficult Task of Making a Close Friend RedundantQuestion: Last year, a promotion came up at the IT firm where I work. A colleague and close friend pushed me to put myself forward. When I got the job she was the first to celebrate with me. Now, due to budget restraints, the company is downsizing and I have been tasked with letting a number of staff go. I was gutted to see my friend’s name on the list and have no idea how to break the news to her. Can you advise me on how I can approach this situation without losing her friendship? Answer: This is no doubt a very challenging time for you both personally and professionally. Supervising a friend can have its benefits if they are a loyal follower of yours and ensure that at no time they let the side down. But it can have its challenges when tough discussions must take place such as terminations. You have to consider how to have this uncomfortable discussion with the hope of minimal damage to the personal relationship. Planning the conversation and the following pointers will help you to approach it in a more professional light. Be prepared for an emotional response. How you handle this will determine the future status of your friendship. 1. Make the conversation brief: Be brief when having the ‘manager’ conversation and offer yourself for the ‘friend’ conversation after work. Keep the actual conversation brief and isolate your friendship until this is delivered – this is important for both your own state of mind and for the way your friend perceives the action. 2. Don’t procrastinate: Be direct about the decision. Beating around the bush or using humour will not soften the blow and can give the false impression that things can be turned around. 3. Plan your points: Consider writing down some pointers. Lay out the course of action succinctly and honestly – the same as you would for any employee. Present the reasons for the redundancy and offer your sympathy. “It’s not our call to make, as the business needs have changed. I wish there was another way, but my hands are tied.” 4. Anticipate the reaction: Any employee will feel hurt and shocked after losing their job and may say things out of anger. The fact that a perceived friend is delivering the news will obviously complicate the matter. You need to understand that your friend might try blaming you as a member of the management team, so prepare to deal with that response. 5. Reiterate the value of your friendship: Make it clear that the friendship is a separate issue and that the company is also losing out here at a time of uncertainty. The redundancy situation is a purely economic issue. Soften this reality by explaining that as far as you’re concerned, your work situation will not interfere with your social relationship and reassure them that your friendship will remain on the same footing as always. 6. Use the opportunity to comfort: Approach the process as an unfortunate opportunity but use your knowledge of your friend to make the delivery of the redundancy news as smooth and as painless as possible. 7. Be there, but don’t be pushy: Your friend may be hurt and upset, so continuous texts or calls might make things worse. Let them know you are there for them and are available to meet but let it be their decision. This is not the time to be overly pushy about meeting up. 8. Offer your ongoing support: Explain the severance package, help them plan finding their next job, offer an excellent reference and to work through cover letters, CV updating, and interview preparation. Perhaps use your network to see what is going on in the market and make some introductions for them. Tough business decisions can be hard to deliver. If you clearly point out the reasons behind the business change, and back this up with data to highlight to your friend that all avenues were explored before the decision was made, then hopefully – with your support and guidance – it will make the initial impact a little easier.           Michelle Murphy Director Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group This article was first published in the business section of The Sunday Independent on the 15th of October 2017, and the original article can be found...

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Helping a New Team Leader Rise to The Challenge After a Rocky Start

Question: I’m the senior manager in a MedTech firm. I promoted another staff member to team leader after he showed exceptional skill during a successful trial period. Eight weeks into his role, two team members have raised issues about his leadership qualities. I promoted him because of his high standard and think he will be a fantastic role model. I want to see him do well, and inspire confidence. How do I bring this up without causing tension between him and his team? Answer: Leading a team long term requires a specific set of skills. But many who are successful at a senior level struggle to make the transition from management of operations or projects to people management. Often training, mentoring and on-going support are required to assist them. 1 Why is this issue arising now? As the team leader has successfully completed a trial period, consider what is the difference between the environment now and during that period. Is the workload heavier? Are there stresses now that did not exist before? While other team members are citing issues with their direct-line management, perhaps there are other issues. Gather information on the performance of the team, attendance records and project requisitions. Garner informal feedback from other team leaders or managers. An overall barometer of the composition and performance of the team will allow you to ascertain if the issue is with the direct line management of the team or with the more strategic issues of the allocation of workload, stress management or more complex dynamics within the team itself. 2 Initiate a coaching-based conversation Organise a confidential space to...

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I was horrified to learn I am paid less than male colleagues – how do I reduce the gap?

Question: With all the talk about the gender pay gap in the news recently, I started to wonder if my pay was on a par with my male colleagues so I did a bit of asking around. I was horrified to find out that not only was my pay substantially less than my male counterparts, it was also fairly significantly less than one more junior male member of my team – a person who I manage. I have found it hard to bite my tongue, but I have no idea how to tackle the issue as we do not have pay scales in work and I only found out the differences as I started asking. How should I broach this with my boss? Answer: I can imagine this was a great shock and I would hope that, in this day and age, you are in a minority as many companies have started to address gender pay differences and are being proactive in ensuring that pay scales are in place. There should be no discrepancies between male and female workers in the same role and I would suggest all companies review pay to ensure there are no obvious gaps. The safest way is to tie in pay scales directly to market value for the role at hand, which leaves a narrow range for negotiation and addresses unfair pay gaps. Organisations should conduct annual pay-equity analysis to ensure pay is in line with relevant variables such as market value, employee experience, annual performance reviews, etc. Some companies are introducing total ‘pay transparency’, which allows everyone to be aware of what their...

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How to Change Culture, Deliver an ‘Out of Office’ Message and Reclaim Time For Yourself

Question: I am a manager in a high-paced media company. While I enjoy my job, the pressure is relentless. There are just not enough hours in the day to get all the work done and even when I get home, there is the pressure to be ‘always on’ and answer emails right up to bedtime. There is never a chance to recharge the batteries and I am in danger of burning out. How can I carve out some ‘me time’ without coming across to my bosses as being unavailable?   Answer: We will spend a third of our life working and that does not include the extra hours we clock up between overtime, skipped lunches and answering emails after hours. Many employees feel compelled to put in that extra time to impress their employers, while others feel their company culture encourages working outside of office hours so the pressure is there to be ‘switched on’ constantly. In this fast-living environment many feel there are just not enough hours in the day for ‘me time’. It is very easy for the needs of the business to spill over into your personal time and you end up prioritising work over other parts of your life. Many organisations may overload employees, contacting them outside of business hours and making last-minute requests. Often the employees and managers feel the need to put in the extra hours to deal with these demands – arrive early, stay late, come in at the weekends and have the mobile and laptop ready to respond 24/7. But the reality is you cannot be available 24/7 and you should...

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I Need a Plan of Action to Help Boost Morale and Enthusiasm Among My Flagging Team

  Question: I am a manager in a software company and feel that the team is lacking in morale and general enthusiasm. I want to motivate them and am thinking I need to spend more time planning career development options for the team. Do you have any tips for me that I can put in place in order to focus on career plans for the team and rebuild the morale?   Answer: Motivation is a constant juggling act for managers and company leaders – your team may have the expertise you need but if they are not motivated, you are not going to get the best from them. When the team is motivated, there is a flow in the work process, there is positivity in the air and people look forward to coming into work. Motivated people are highly adaptable, open to change and always project a positive attitude at work. They speak highly of the organisation, which builds the brand and reputation, have less absenteeism, work with a sense of urgency and really want to increase their performance to ensure the organisation reaches their objectives. There is a difference between extrinsic motivation (salary, bonuses, time off) and intrinsic motivation (personal desire to achieve, career development, promotion opportunities, challenging projects, etc.) Sometimes companies feel the extrinsic motivators are the key drivers when more often than not intrinsic motivators are more important. Every team member will be different so it is important to get to know your people. Your team needs to know you are investing in their careers so a review of company policy on career development is imperative....

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