Getting the sack, loss, grief: a guide for managers

A wave of layoffs in the company. An employee takes on a different job. Or one of your colleagues passes away. Especially for management, such losses and grief pose a real challenge. Here is how you can find a healthy way to deal with the situation.

Mavie editorial team24/10/2022

Guide for managers

In business, change and transformations are associated with profit and loss. The loss can be manifold: it’s not just about losing business contacts or projects. Sometimes there are also personnel losses within the company. Through dismissals, a change of job – and in the worst case maybe even through death. Any of these changes create new dynamics. But more than anything, these losses trigger an avalanche of emotions that can present leaders with special challenges. How do you deal with the anger, frustration, overwhelming demands, and grief? How do you find a healing way of handling the loss so that life and work in the company can go on?

Getting the sack, loss, grief

Recognise needs when there is loss and grief at work

In principle, losses are highly complex events for which there is no patent remedy. Every situation requires a different approach. If you are even confronted with a death in the company, it is important for the manager to

quickly see people’s needs and uncertainties and take these into account in the work processes. Who should be pulled more closely into the teamwork, to give them a feeling of security? Who needs more time alone? 

Know the phases of coping with grief

To be able to lead through loss situations in the company with sensitivity, it is important to know the different phases of coping with grief: we experience denial. Emotions well up. Then there is a phase of searching and reorientation. And also a time in which one establishes a new reference to oneself and the world. The course these phases take can vary from person to person – so department heads and bosses need to react with a combination of professionalism and mindfulness. Grief processes are not linear, but rather circular. Some phases repeat themselves. And grief as such is never over, it just changes as time goes by. The symptoms of grief can show up on different levels.

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