Q: I'm a manager who has been instructed to lay off four of my employees. I've picked the four - but only one has performance issues, while the others are solid employees. Can you offer any advice for making this less painful for them, and me? - Ken
A: Dale: Glad you asked. It's natural for you to start to withdraw from the four, and to justify your decision by finding fault with their work and personalities.
Then, along come the HR folks, who start telling their tales of all that can go wrong in a layoff. You become so uptight that you turn legalistic and bureaucratic, and without wanting to, become callous and brusque, making the situation worse for everyone.
It's the employee who feels abused who seeks out an attorney, not the one who thinks the boss wants the employee to succeed.
Kate: Here are two sample parting comments suggested by Alan Sklover, a well-known employment attorney:
"You have many good friends here. We hope those friendships will continue.
"You have made considerable and long-lasting contributions, and they are acknowledged and appreciated."
These are not just kind, they are the kind of remarks that help employees move on, and help prevent you and the company from becoming "the enemy."