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Advice on how to support a friend when part of the decision for job loss

(4 Posts)
fretfree Sat 25-Jul-15 22:21:37

I work with a good friend (whom I met through work). I'm not directly in her reporting line: she reports to the head of the team and I am the deputy. It is a fairly small team and the head is also a friend.

The head will be asking her to leave soon, as she is massively under performing. She has been warned off on this before and was given a huge amount of help to get back on her feet / turn her performance around. But she really creates more work than she clears. From a purely objective position, I think that it is the right decision for the team (and honestly, i don't think friend is happy at work - the field / the team has all evolved, but she has not, and I think she is feeling increasingly swamped by minor issues). I have been consulted by the head on this matter.

I know she will come to see me afterwards (if I am not in the actual meeting, which could feasibly happen) and I am crap at knowing what to say in such circumstances. Any advice on how to best manage the situation?

soupermum1 Sun 26-Jul-15 14:37:26

Firstly, I would alert the head and others that she may come to you and that you don't want to be caught up in any politics. That said she is a friend and you would like them to know that you may or should listen to her and be there for her. As a HR professional, I come from a place of knowledge, so hopefully my guidance will help. The best thing to do is just listen. You don't have to say how mean everyone has been. Just listen. Grab a cup of tea for her and make sure you have tissues to hand. When she is ready, you can talk to her about what she plans to do next. What sort of job she really wants and thinks she will do well and to think about why the last one did not work out for her.

You said that you will not be in the meeting, but it could happen. Employees have the right to be accompanied. So you could attend. But again you don't have to speak. In fact accompanying someone does not give you the right to speak, so you are safe on those grounds. Sometimes, employees just want someone with them, unless they are too embarassed for others to hear.

So in summary, just be there. But make sure others see what role you are playing. Just that of someone who considers that providing support to a human being, regardless of the circumstances, is just the right thing to do.

Hope that helps..

WeAllHaveWings Sun 26-Jul-15 20:26:42

I assume it will not entirely be a surprise for her if she has been under review for a while now. The difficulty you could have is having been part of the discussion on her ultimate fate and knowing it was coming. If she is a friend outside work, she may go through a phase of being angry and that anger being directed at you for not warning her it was coming.

I've been in this position in the past and its tough but and I've been honest but not at detail level. Be ready to be asked if you were involved in the discussions/decision and be honest, even if the honesty is to simply say yes I was consulted and reiterate what she already knows. Be professional and don't give out information that should be confidential, she should respect you if you say you cant discuss certain things. The friendship may cool for a while if she is angry or embarrassed, but hopefully should pick up again later.

If she doesn't come to you after the meeting, give her a little space, but after a while go to her and ask how she is and offer support. I've seen friendships dissolve in similar situations because neither person approached the other.

Good luck, and have the hankies ready for both of you.

fretfree Mon 27-Jul-15 15:56:43

Thanks so much both of you. Great advice. Weallhavewings - that is my fear exactly. It's a really tough one - she will know I have been part of the decision and will ask me - I really take on board both your advice to just listen and let her talk. It is good to be reminded not to try and 'fix' the situation, and I really appreciate the heads up that it's ok for me to be emotional also. It's difficult - I have a loyalty to my friend, but I also have a professional loyalty. Thanks again for the advice.

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