Each week, Dr Kirstin Ferguson tackles questions on the workplace, career and leadership in her advice column “Got a Minute?” This week, navigating Christmas redundancies, a premature promotion without the pay rise and dealing with a job-hunting colleague.
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I am a middle manager and have just been told by my bosses there are a number of redundancies in my team which have to happen this year and the impacted people will be informed in mid-December. As the boss of some of the people who are leaving, I need to be involved in the communications. I feel uncomfortable knowing this is coming for some of my team, let alone knowing it will happen so close to Christmas; it just seems wrong. Not only that, but I feel powerless to do anything since the decision has been made by people more senior than me. Is there anything you recommend I do?
There is no doubt redundancies are tough for all involved, especially when they happen at a meaningful time of year like Christmas and a time when expenses are high. I can understand you feeling uncomfortable about the timing, and it sounds like you are also struggling with knowing this will happen at all, especially as the people impacted are seemingly unaware.
The harsh reality is there is never a good time to tell someone they have been made redundant. The best thing you can do for those being let go is to be as compassionate and respectful as you can be when you deliver the news. If necessary, be sure to get the support you need well ahead of the meeting, so you know exactly what information you need to convey, how to answer any questions they might have and also think through how you will respond if the person experiences a range of emotions which they are sure to do. This is an important leadership role you will have as their manager and is the time to do your absolute best.
The only other advice I have relates to your comment about feeling powerless to do anything. Your perspective on how this is being handled and any suggestions you may have for an alternative approach may be valued by your bosses. I would make sure you spend time with them now to understand why this is the timing that they think is most appropriate and if appropriate, suggest any alternative approach you think would be better. Listen to their reasoning and then offer suggestions you think could lead to a better outcome for all.
I have received an internal promotion which starts in six months. I am looking forward to the role and it means an increase in pay and responsibilities. However, I seem to be doing the role already. My boss just acts as though the internal promotion has already started even though I am still being paid at a lower rate. It doesn’t seem fair, but I want to avoid rocking the boat and jeopardising the new role altogether. What do you recommend?
This warrants a conversation with your boss to suggest whether, given you are virtually performing the role already, they would be open to bringing forward your start date. You could reinforce how much you are enjoying the responsibilities coming your way and therefore would like to formalise that so there is no confusion.
I would let your boss know that while you are happy to take on the new work, and you can’t wait for the new role to formally begin, the fact it seems to have started informally already means tasks in your current job are not being done. You could also offer to help find the replacement for your current role as one of your first tasks. In short, I would just find a way to constructively help your boss see that for all intents and purposes, you are already working in the new role so let’s make it formal, for everyone’s sake.
We sit in an open-plan office and one of my workmates spends hours looking online for a new job. He doesn’t seem to care we can all see he does no work at all. It drives me crazy, and mainly because our boss never seems to notice that he is cruising through and not working, let alone looking for a new job. I am not at the point of wanting to dob him in, and it is not really my business but I wish my boss would do something about it. Any advice?
The fact he is looking for a new job, while supposed to be doing his current one, is bad enough. However, he could be reading anything online since the real issue seems to be he is not doing the current job he is paid for. If you prefer not to say anything, which I completely understand, then there is not much to be done especially if your boss doesn’t want to step up and do their job of supervising the team. Given all that, I think you just need to focus on what you are doing, keep being the professional you are and hope he finds a new job very soon!
Send your questions about work, careers and leadership to [email protected] Your name and any identifying information will not be used. Letters may be edited.
Dr Kirstin Ferguson is an author, columnist and company director. Her latest book Head & Heart: The Art of Modern Leadership (Penguin Random House) is available to order now.
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