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Managing De-Selection

“I think that the people delivering messages that are tough need to realise that you don’t really know the mental state of the person at the other end of that message.” (Emma Twigg, Olympic Gold Medalist)


If you’re in a situation where you have to make selections, whether that be in sport, employment or other areas of life, that means you’ll have to de-select. This can be a tough space to get right, where we often shy away or don’t fully appreciate the repercussions. Too often we head in the direction with the ‘chosen ones’ to leave the unchosen sitting in ‘no mans land’ wondering why? How do we look after the people who are de-selected and/or exiting our programmes or employment. Story time...


A business made the decision it had to ‘restructure.’ Yes the ‘R’ word that many (not everyone) dread. This meant that six people would be out of a job. So as a parting gift the General Manager facilitated a two day personal leadership programme (called He Tangata). I was invited to attend, along with the six departing employees and six ‘outsiders.’ At lunchtime I spoke with the GM and asked why the six departing employees hadn’t shown up as his staff all seemed so engaged and chuffed to be there. I was expecting a bunch of disgruntled people, ready to take pot shots at the GM. And he said 'they have, they are all sitting in the room.'


I couldn’t believe it as in times of massive uncertainty, they had a hugely respectful relationship with the GM (and remember he had to deliver the news they would be out of a job) and all seemed so happy and optimistic of what they could do with their lives. I asked ‘what did you do to maintain this respect and help them get to such a positive state of mind?’ And he just said ‘communication. In fact over-communication. We told them straight up, but in a sincere way as to why the decision had to be made, then put processes in place to connect-in regularly and kept the office door open to talk whenever they wanted. We then helped them with cv’s, connected them with other employers and put on this course as a parting gift.’


Wow, we could all learn from this. It’s about 'pulling the socks up' and doing the right thing. Let people know where they stand and why, coupled with sincerity and a plan with checkpoints. As remember, we are dealing with people who will all deal with things a bit differently.


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