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What to Avoid

  • Don’t ask too many questions. Questions can stop an employee’s expression of feelings.

  • Avoid platitudes such as, “Everything will work out” or “This is the Creator’s will.” Employees who are hurting may not be able to accept this. What they need most at first is to be heard—without judgment.

  • Don’t try to minimize feelings. Never say “You really shouldn’t feel that way” or “Now, now, it’s really not that bad “or “You’re lucky you still have a job.”

  • Don’t take anger directed at you personally. Grief-reaction anger frequently spills out onto people who do not deserve it. This will diminish as the person vents his or her feelings. Remember, you are not the object of their anger. Use the five helpful listening skills, and repeat back to them that you see how angry and upset they are. This acknowledgment usually helps the angry person hear his or her own rage.

Quick Tips For Helping

  1. LISTEN. No advice.

  2. STAY CONNECTED. Make contact; don’t avoid.

  3. TALK ABOUT WHATEVER IS BROUGHT UP. Follow their agenda.

  4. ASK ABOUT FEELINGS. “What concerns you most about the reorganization?”

  5. AVOID TRADING “WAR STORIES” AT FIRST. After the employee has had a chance to do some grieving, hearing about your change-loss experience may offer some hope.

  6. REMAIN NONJUDGMENTAL IN THE FACE OF STRONG EMOTION. Keep in mind the feelings are theirs.

  7. HELP START THE CHANGE PROCESS ANY SMALL WAY. Help with moving things, putting new names in a Rolodex™, obtaining new organizational charts, reviewing or creating new performance objectives.

  8. HELP THEM KEEP PART OF THE OLD SYSTEM AS THEY ENTER THE NEW ONE. Save some visual symbol, such as an old logo, photos.

  9. HELP BREAK THE ICE WITH NEW STAFF. Arrange for the employee to have lunch with one new team member.

  10. SHARE INFORMATION ABOUT THE NEW SYSTEM. Tell anything hopeful you know about the new management.



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