6 Steps to Manage Survivors After Redundancy


This guide exposes the mistakes we could make as managers AFTER a round of redundancies and then gives practical advice on how to build up motivation and performance.


  1. The common mistake managers make
  2. The  6 steps – “How To” checklist
  3. Other useful resources

The common mistakes managers make

Keeping our heads down.

We tend to be so focused on the tasks in hand; with fewer people and changes in our own responsibilities it becomes a question of just getting the job done.

Seeing the effects of change but not looking for the underlying causes.

Sometimes performance dips, for all sorts of reasons, and we just dive straight in with “feedback” and make people defensive. (See our e-book “What every manager ought to know about giving feedback” and you will realise the problems that causes.)

Not being aware of how other survivors may be feeling.

Just because the redundancy round is over does not mean everyone will just get on with the job in hand. Survivor guilt can manifest itself in many ways. Envy can rear it’s head.

The 6 Steps – How To Checklist

1 Look for the cause. You already know the effect.
2 Show empathy, not sympathy.

Sympathy does not help people move forward. Empathy shows understanding and is a starting point to a good quality conversation.

3 Remind them of their strengths.

Tell the employee why they are, were, valuable to the team. We all want to feel needed. We often need reminding of our strengths.

4 Be honest about your own mistakes.

If you have been tucked away slaving hard you may have missed important signs. It’s never too late to own up and step up.

5 Use constructive, open questions to move the conversation into positive territory.

What do they think are the priorities of their new role? What has got to be achieved to get results? What are the potential problems?

5 Seek good ideas to implement.

People are more likely to engage if they can see a solution to problems and make it happen, even if it is really something quite simple. A quick win works wonders.

6 Provide support.

Find out their hopes and fears. Are they doubting where they are now? Is there anything that you can do to support people in their ambitions? Are they happy doing the new kind of work? Are their skills a good fit for the new role? Is part time work a possibility? Could you use hidden skills or desires at work?

It’s no good sitting on other people’s dreams; frustrated people don’t make great employees. On the other hand if we feel wanted and useful we usually deliver our best.


Useful Resources

Download the free ebook here.

try our video on this topic

In our video How To Manage Survivors After Redundancies, you can see a manager trying to deal with Polly. Polly is a “survivor” after a round of redundancies but her performance has dipped. The manager is going to tackle her about it because she is putting everyone under some strain. It also turns out that the manager, although appearing rather forceful, is also stressed but for different reasons.

This scenario goes rapidly downhill with a criticism, which makes Polly defensive and therefore she fights back.  The same words used more sympathetically, combined with an open question encourages an honest, and far more constructive, answer.

In our e-learning module Managing Reactions To Change we combine two videos along with some interactive exercises to help you get results.

This ebook has covered the basics of managing change but it’s only the beginning.

We’ve been building our leadership and management development business, elconsulting, for over 20 years now. During that time, we’ve been fortunate to enjoy a lot of success but we’ve also made our share of mistakes.

What if you could benefit directly from our years of experience and avoid those mistakes?

We’ve got something to share with you. We call it eltalking, the people management toolbox, and it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done.


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