When a major Supermarket client needed to make wholesale redundancies following a root and branch restructure, we supported them with roleplayer teams for their Breaking the News workshops, specially devised to help managers with the stressful task of informing trusted and long standing members of their team that they were facing redundancy.
These workshops were designed to be flexible and immediate, as the timetable for implementation was short and the project confidential. Over the course of several weeks, we worked with both small, intimate groups – where all of the participants were able to take an active role at some point during the session – to town hall groups of around 40 managers, where some took part and others directed the action from the audience.
A variety of scenarios were designed, all standardising the preferred way to actually deliver the message, but each considering very different staff reactions for the participant to manage. After a session with our trainer facilitator outlining the procedure required, they had the chance to say the words out loud to our roleplayer ‘staff members’, who’s emotional responses ranged through shock, resignation and anger, to aggression, anxiety and depression.
The aim of the session was to fully prepare managers for task at hand both practically and emotionally, so they were better able to support the business and their staff. As very few of the managers had had to undertake a task like this before, the overwhelming reaction was relief to have an opportunity to run through the process and prepare themselves for possible reactions, as well as having a chance to discuss the project openly with other managers in the same situation.
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