Det´ slut: En afhandling om hensigtsmæssig afskedigelseskommunikation

Lise Lausted & Stine Åbjerg Søderberg

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

In the beginning of the 00‟s Danish politicians boasted that Denmark had a record low unem-ployment rate. However, due to the financial crisis things have taken a 180-degree turn and during the last two years Danish workers, who have been accustomed to setting the labour market agenda, have been faced with myriads of redundancies and single-employee termina-tions. Unfortunately, the list of badly communicated terminations is long. And even though managers view themselves as highly qualified, there is little evidence that they have the skills needed to terminate employees in a suitable manner – a manner that also takes the receiver of the communication into account. In the field of communication, however, it is repeatedly argued that one should always take the needs and wants of the target group into considera-tion. In this thesis we therefore set out to explore how Danish salaried-employees prefer to be informed about a potential termination and how companies can incorporate this into their communication when terminating. We also examine whether it is possible to draw up a best practice document and how one such in that case should look. Apart from two qualitative interviews with salaried-employees, the findings in the thesis are based on an elaborate internet based questionnaire survey directed at both salaried-employees and managers. To further explore the modern day workers‟ demands and required interper-sonal communication skills, we also incorporate theory from management consultant Leif Pjetursson and professor in management philosophy Ole Fogh Kirkeby as well as communi-cation scholars Owen Hargie and David Dickson. One discovery is that the existing handbook literature on terminations to great extent captures the wishes of the Danish salaried-employees regarding the practical circumstances. However, the practical circumstances surrounding terminations do not seem to carry much weight. On the contrary, the all-important finding in the thesis is that termination decisions always must be communicated in person by the employee‟s immediate manager, which is why managers‟ communication skills are of great importance. There is, however, a striking discrepancy between managers‟ and salaried-employees‟ view on managers‟ skills: The majority of manag-ers feel well prepared, but the salaried-employees point to the fact that managers are not trustworthy in their communication, nor do they provide enough information or satisfy the emotional needs of the employees. Based on these and other findings it is argued that there is every reason for companies to take a closer look at managers‟ communication skills. Equally, it is discussed how to do so and inferred that it is in fact possible to draw up a best practice document and that one such should contain information on where, when and how to inform an employee about his or her termination. However, it is also noted that it should never be applied without taking into con-sideration the specific context. As Danish salaried-employees prefer a communication style that is dialogic, empathetic, confidence-inspiring, trustworthy, and respectful, it is amongst other things concluded that managers should be able to set own interests aside, observe the employee‟s reactions, and make sure that the manner and content of the communication is in alignment with the employees‟ needs and wants and adhered to. This means that managers should possess active listening skills, knowledge about typical crisis reactions, and be aware of their own as well as the to-be-unemployed person‟s verbal and nonverbal communication. The Alfa and Omega of an effective and suitable termination is in other words that the manager is willing and able to be in charge, but not in control.

EducationsMA in International Business Communication (Intercultural Marketing), (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2011
Number of pages129