Dear Aunty B,
I just turned 50, and while 50 might be the new 40, I feel my age and have experienced recent health problems. I have made the decision to scale down the business and need to make some staff redundant. How do I do so without hurting our culture?
Also a few staff are in control of finances. My accountant says I need to march them out the door for security reasons. But I would feel terrible doing that. Some have worked with me for 20 years.
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Tell your accountant to go and play with his calculator. Your gut feel is absolutely right, and you certainly don’t have to march anyone out the door.
Tell staff what is happening right now. I am sure they are aware of your ill health and are concerned for you and the company. Outline the strategy. Tell them how you intend to downscale, what areas will be staying and what are going and your reasons for that.
Then you need to take the individual staff aside and explain how it will affect them – both those staying and going.
It is far better for staff to understand what you are doing than to spring it on them. And the last thing you want is the staff you want to stay walking out the door.
As for people you are making redundant – unless you have a psychopath on staff, you have no reason to fear that people will be destructive and vindictive when they are made redundant. Instead they usually feel sad, upset and fearful. So treat them with dignity. I have always found that giving them a choice about when they want to leave is by far a better option.
One more thing: forget about 50 being the new 40. Sometimes I think one year in business adds 10 years to your age.
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