How can HR handle its own redundancy?On 2 Apr 2002 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article HRprofessionals are not immune to experiencing raw emotion when their own jobdisappears but their best plan is to view their choices dispassionatelyIhave been through the redundancy process twice now but nothing prepares you forthe emotional roller-coaster ride – shock, anger, fear and disillusionment areall dominant emotions. Inmy first role in HR, I was responsible for establishing a new technical centrefor Fisons. I formed a team from scratch, putting people in new roles andrelocating staff from three other UK sites. I became involved in the personalas well as professional lives of the individuals I was dealing with. Relocationisn’t easy – the majority of staff I was managing had families to consider –and schools, housing, support for partners were critical issues.Butnot everyone wanted to relocate to this division and I got my first experienceof handling redundancy. Fouryears on, the process was repeated but this time my own role was included. Peoplewere angry. They had been through one upheaval and now a corporate takeovermeant everyone was asked to move again. Having built up a team, I was now facedwith the task of dismantling it and working out what my own next career movewould be. Almosthalf the team were given the option of redeployment, including myself. The bigquestion became “should I stay or should I go?” It was time to bedispassionate and help the undecided employees make their decisions. Idecided I had to remain impartial at all costs. I was there to ensure peoplehad considered all of their options. I found it useful and important not toexplain the rationale behind my decision – to leave the company – under anycircumstances. Tosecure trust you have to be honest and there was no secret made of my decision.I just didn’t go into the reasoning behind it. Idecided to cross over from HR to line management at a call centre. I wanted topractice what I had preached for the last five years. But a few years on – anda hostile acquisition later – redundancy loomed once more. Iautomatically went into HR mode. I was a line manager overseeing a team of 20people, the majority of whom had only been working for three to four years.This was their first job since leaving school, they had very limited experienceof job hunting – they were terrified. Idecided to tackle this head on by setting up a self-help group – in effect amini-outplacement scheme of my own. I rearranged the team’s timetable so jobsearching could be fitted in. I sold this concept to the company by explainingit would maintain staff morale and productivity over the four-month periodbefore the site closed. Theteam was given structure to their job campaigns and consequently weresuccessful with everyone being re-employed. Therewas one flaw to my plan however – while focusing on everyone else I hadforgotten about myself. I felt responsible and gave out too much of my owntime. Peoplebecame dependent on me, plus news travels fast and soon I had people queuing atmy door for advice. Someboundaries should never be crossed. A big no-no is socialising with staff. Whenredundancy is announced, the last place it should be discussed, if you are in aHR capacity, is down the pub. Howdo you cope alone? Well, you have to accept that you can’t. Internal support isoften limited for HR so external support is key.Itook full advantage of outplacement services and networking. But the mostuseful skill I learned was above all to maintain a positive outlook at alltimes. SuePyatt is business relationship manager at HR consultants Penna Sanders&Sidney Comments are closed.