I had to let someone go today. Sadly, it was a reflection of the volatile economic times. Call it downsizing, or a layoff, or whatever you want to call it. The bottom line is that we’re cutting our work force and it started with her.
If you’ve never been in this situation, you’re lucky. I do not relish this duty at all. It’s awkward from the moment you start walking toward that person, to asking her to go with you to talk privately, to sitting down across from her and thanking her for all the hard work she’s done, but…
My co-worker says I handled it beautifully with kid gloves and sensitivity. I hope so, but don’t feel any better about the fact that I know this woman’s income is gone, and that she was planning a vacation next March, and that we had to walk out of that room and back to our desks and finish our days as though we hadn’t just emerged from a huddle room with a plan to terminate her employment.
If it hasn’t happened to you, then it’s difficult to describe your demeanor afterward; the distance, the wall you put up between yourself and the rest of your officemates as you finish out the day and try to give the newly displaced person some dignity. I tried to walk away and let her have some privacy to speak freely about her feelings among her colleagues. I tried to tone down any frivolity that might have come up as a routine part of my day. I tried to stay somber and professional when all I really wanted to do was go home and not have to face her anymore.
I tried to imagine myself anywhere else and watched the clock until it was finally over.