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How do you lay somebody off?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Inky_Wretch, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    What do you say to them? How do you break the news?

    I ask because we just had another round of layoffs here. Luckily, nobody in sports was affected. But I fear the day is coming that I'll have to pull somebody into the office and have The Talk (no, not that talk). I've learned how to handle just about every other personnel situation but that one.

    So, before I have to do it, anybody got any tips?
  2. Moderator1

    Moderator1 Moderator Staff Member

    "You need to stop in at HR."

    Let them do the dirty work.
  3. SF_Express

    SF_Express Active Member

    Not to put even the slightest positive face on it, because it sucks regardless, but if it's done right, you'll only be a part of it. The person is called into a meeting, and there is perhaps a top editor there and somebody from human resources to explain the terms of the layoff, the severance, medical, everything else.

    It's short and (well, certainly not sweet) and it's done in a very professional way.

    Of course, it can also be done badly. If you're on your own, you just need to keep it very businesslike and "just the facts" and frankly, you should leave apologies at a minimum, because it's not your fault. An, "I'm sorry we're in this situation" kind of thing is probably OK.

    You don't want to get into a debate, and if they try, you need to have somebody to refer them to. There should be an entire mapped-out procedure, and you should have all your t's crossed and i's dotted before it starts -- final check in hand, plus any paperwork needed.

    Is it that human? No. But prolonging it does no good for anybody.

    There's no getting around that it's a very sad, uncomfortable procedure. There's no way to do it with sunshine and balloons.
  4. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    If the decision wasn't yours, tell them that.
  5. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    We used to have a "Hiring and Development Dept."
    Someone on the last round, pasted over the sign "Firing and Redeployment." In a twist of irony, there are two people left in the department.

    As for the original question, it's pure, unadulterated dread. No sleep. Dry heaves. Cough blood.
    I wrote this the last round when someone questioned the hell. I stated it aware that the person on the other side of the table just lost a career. Their family's future uncertain. I'm fully cognizant their dream job just turned into a nightmare. That our community just lost a steward.

  6. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    when i first went over to news, my publisher called me into his office and wanted to talk a little management philosophy. the only thing he told me was: "tom, we owe it to our people to be honest with them. that IS the least we can give them as their supervisors."

    obviously, i've never forgotten that talk.
  7. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    Tom hit it. It's the only way to operate.
    You don't fuck around. You don't bullshit. These are men and women that have made a career weeding through bullshit. Don't make them do it again.
  8. newgrad2008

    newgrad2008 New Member

    I mean, that's if they even tell you it's happening. I know of at least one paper that didn't tell the SE there were going to be layoffs in his department three weeks before a local major D1 program began workouts and two weeks before a prep tab was supposed to be done. Just left him to pick up the slack after laying off a designer.
  9. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    Thanks Tomas. I'll burn that one into my memory.
  10. EE94

    EE94 Guest

    I second that.
    Also, allow them to absorb the news. Don't blather on.
    I have had the misfortune of having to tell two employees of their layoff.
    I found both to be extremely gracious, having been aware the process was coming, and knowing how difficult it was for me to have to be the official to tell them.
    But being completely honest and up front was the only way to handle it.
  11. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    inky - i'd take a bullet for you, my friend.
  12. Drip

    Drip Active Member

    1, Don't bullshit. Be honest with the person. They derserve that much.
    2. Offer as much help as you can.
    3. Moddy's idea of letting HR do the dirty work is ok, but in some ways its a cowardly way to act. Especially if this person was a good employee. I think they deserve more than just going to see HR and letting them do the diry work.
    4. Treat the person the way you would want to be treated if the situation was reversed.
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