How to Maintain Composure When Handing Out Pink Slips

Julie Shenkman
Posted by

Microsoft, one of the world’s largest and most well-known companies, is poised to distribute pink slips to more than 18,000 of its 130,000 employees in late 2014, according to the company’s Chief Executive Officer Staya Nadella. As the largest round of layoffs this company has ever experienced, human resource managers are no doubt looking for ways to deliver the news to their employees with compassion and composure.

Whether they are distributing pink slips to thousands of employees or just a handful, human resource managers must deliver their message with compassion and composure. During such an emotional interaction, it is easy to let emotions like fear, sadness, anger and frustration take over. Therefore, managers must strive to maintain their composure regardless of how their employees react to such stressful and unexpected news.No one wants to terminate employees, but it has to be done from time to time. The following are ways human resource managers can maintain their composure while doing so:

• Human resource managers should take care not to prolong the inevitable when it comes to distributing pink slips. Postponing the announcement or beating around the bush when making the announcement creates anxiety among employees, and it also allows time for emotions to take over. Managers should always take a direct and abrupt approach.

• A succinct script that compassionately outlines the reasons for the layoff is a must. It’s also important to rehearse the script before the announcement and stick to the script when delivering the news to employees. Doing so helps managers take a step back and deliver the news with composure.

• Managers should allow time for a short question and answer segment following the announcement. However, a prolonged session that rehashes the same information over and over will only serve to bring emotions to the forefront. The key is to keep the message short and sweet when distributing pink slips.

• It’s also important that managers try to remain objective when dealing with employee reactions. Terminating employees is an emotional, stressful event for all those involved. Managers should expect heated emotions to surface and strive to remain professional throughout the exchange. A great way to do this is to pause for a few seconds and take a deep breath before speaking.

• If there are resources available for employees such as severance pay or assistance obtaining new employment, managers should make these readily available after distributing pink slips. By taking affirmative action to help their employees make the transition, managers can take the sting out of this devastating event.

It’s extremely important to maintain composure while distributing pink slips. By keeping their emotions in check, human resource managers are better able to deliver the news in a kind, compassionate way. Managers should also keep in mind that remaining employees will look at how they managed the layoffs and form an opinion about the company based on their ability to remain composed and professional.


Photo courtesy of adamr at



Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch