Among the most challenging aspects of being a leader is having to let people go. For most managers, dismissing staff can be a difficult decision to make and to communicate. Most find it especially confronting when the people impacted are loyal and capable members of the team that have to be let go due to redundancy.

While difficult decisions need to be made, the approach taken to implementing them is critical.

Having compassion, behaving with respect, and providing people with support to move on can have a profound impact on their wellbeing and future success.

4 ways to support career transition

1. Be compassionate

Losing your job is a stressful experience. At times unexpected, the sudden and dramatic change in circumstances can leave people feeling frightened about what the future holds and confused about how to move forward. Financial concerns, a lack of emotional intelligence or confidence can all make the situation difficult.

Helping people move on with their confidence and dignity intact starts with caring. Appreciate the impact losing their job can have on a person’s sense of worth and hope for their future. Make necessary decisions while maintaining empathy for the challenges the individual is likely to face. Approach the situation with a view to protecting the emotional well-being and mental health of every member of your team, not only those you choose to let go.

2. Consider your timing and give notice

Poor timing is among the most common mistakes leaders make and reasons people feel aggrieved and struggle to move on. For example, informing someone of your decision to terminate their employment the day before they go on their honeymoon is far from ideal and, in most circumstances, avoidable.

Give fair and reasonable notice of the potential or likelihood of someone’s departure from your business. Take steps to ensure underperforming members of your team are aware of how they need to improve and the consequences of failing to do so. If redundancy is a possibility provide honest insight as early as practical.

3. Enable new opportunity

Reflect on colleagues who may be looking for the skills, experience or approach of the person/s leaving your business. Identify those who may be willing and able to provide guidance or refer opportunities they are aware of elsewhere.

Connect people with advisors who can guide their efforts to find and secure a new job. Consider coaching and outplacement agencies able to provide up-to-date information on the job market and help people to understand how they can best position themselves. Advice on how to identify suitable job opportunities and present themselves effectively to potential employers can be invaluable.

4. Provide emotional support

Professional counselling can play an important role in helping some people to work through the distress they feel in having to leave a job, team or organisation they enjoy. Outplacement services or medical clinics are 2 avenues through which this support can be accessed. Irrespective of paid services provided, make information about where support is available easily accessible. When people know where to start they are more likely to seek the support they need.