Guest Article by Valerie Delforge, Founder & CEO Delforge + Co.
Over the years, managing large teams has made human resources a huge part of my role. Of everything it implied, one of the most unpleasant aspects was dismissing employees. Regardless of how you approach the situation or the circumstances of the dismissal, it has a negative energy on the team. Staff begin to wonder why this happened and whether they’re going to be next. There is, of course, a sense of relief when the person “deserves” to be let go of, but in general, it’s quite unsettling for the team’s dynamic. Quickly enough, you find yourself working on rebuilding everyone’s morale. As we were discussing topics, Phorest’s social media and blog content executive, Zoé Bélisle-Springer, asked me: “When is it okay to talk about salon layoff rumours and how much do you reveal?”
Salon Layoff Rumours: HR Best Practices
First, Let’s Picture A Scenario.
Because some things are just easier to discuss with a specific example.
“Layoff rumours have been going around for weeks. The employees you manage know you’ve had several meetings to discuss options, one as recently as yesterday. During that meeting, you decided to lay off 2-3 employees the following week. An employee comes into your office and says, “Hey, I know you guys have been talking about layoffs. I’m really worried; I can’t afford to lose my job. Do you know what’s going to happen?”
What Would You Do? Tell Him/Her What’s Going On?
Salon layoff rumours are always a difficult challenge to deal with as you want to protect your team while also ensuring everyone is happy. However, a managing role requires you to stay professional. By making that one employee aware of what is happening, you take a huge risk of losing control over the situation. In fact, this is what you expose yourself to:
- A Negative Atmosphere
… with the people being dismissed. Remember, they’ll be feeling quite ashamed and hurt. After all, you are touching their livelihood, and that is to be taken seriously. They will be seen – and perhaps act – as victims by creating a drama or even taking action against your management style.
- An Unnecessary Risk
… of making staff team members aware of their dismissal before you even have the time to talk to them. Needless to say, that isn’t healthy. And again, can be held against you if the staff being laid off files a complaint.
- Dramas With Screams And Cries
… which severely damages how both the team and the customers perceive your salon/spa. Sure the team will gossip, but it is better that they do so about something they aren’t aware of rather than something they’ve just found out. For instance, “by the way, two people are being sacked next week…”. What you would have on your hands then pretty much resembles a bomb that has just exploded. Everyone needing attention at once, including the people that are being dismissed, customers, etc.
- A Sinking Ship
Everyone wants to leave a sinking ship. After all, you have started dismissal, and without any explanations, employees are left to their assumptions.
- A Possible Lawsuit
Not following a transparent and fair dismissal procedure can be held against you and result in filed complaints.
Sometimes, managing teams means you’re alone in your decision making, and it is important not to spread panic within your team. Layoffs have a process, and to this process you must stick. Firstly, you need to wonder how on earth does that one person knows (in our scenario, remember)? Unless a manager has came forward, I would have a serious talk with my entire management team, and even consider performance management against who provoked those salon layoff rumours.
Secondly, if you say “Don’t worry your job is safe…” to this person coming to you for answers, you’re opening yourself to everything mentioned above and the risk of favouritism, which is not an empowering management style. Going down that road will make everyone feel let down. But also, consider how well you trust this person? Sure they might work well, and you like them, but are they not likely to go back and talk? It’s too risky…
Thirdly, it is important that you keep it all professional. This is what I would have answered, had I had to deal with the situation: “I am sorry, I can’t discuss this with you at this stage, however, I will meet with everyone next week on a 1 to 1 basis to talk about what is happening”.
And when you dismiss two people at the same time, make sure you have a 1-to-1 meeting with everyone to explain the situation, reassure, calm and re-center your team. Consider this as damage control and being able to generate trust with the ones staying.
By talking too much – and too quickly – to reassure one person, you risk too much. When dealing with salon layoff rumours, you need to focus on the whole outcome of the situation and sometimes, being a manager means that you must keep information to yourself. It’s the only way to handle everything properly, protect yourself from backlash and re-focus your team on the long-term vision of your business.
Thanks for reading,
Valerie Delforge is a Salon Consultant with 25 years of experience in the Beauty Industry. Valerie specialises in creating specific workshops to support managers. Founder of Delforge + Co, she is keen to support the Beauty industry into achieving its best.