I hate being the bearer of bad news. I'm sure most people do. Are you ever tempted to pawn the task of delivering bad news off on someone else? Well, don't. Sharlyn Lauby on her HR Bartender blog makes a strong case for making sure the right person delivers the bad news. If someone is laid-off, the news needs to come from the manager not someone else and especially not an outplacement firm (can you say, impersonal?). So it's not just important what we say and how we say it but also who actually does the talking.
Read Sharyln's great post here.
Did you see the movie "Up in the Air" with George Clooney? That movie showed the highest high of bad practices for letting people go. But as Sharlyn points out, this idea translates to every day stuff too. I was recently as a client's office and talked to a supervisor who did not know how to talk with team members about errors they were making. So she did two things: 1) sent emails, and 2) asked her bossed to do the verbal review. No, no, no. I empathize that she did not feel comfortable (who does?) but she needs to be trained and then do it, not pass it off on technology and bosses. Her employees, predictably, felt uncared for.
One other point: As managers, we want to develop a reputation for being open and real. We can't do that and be fair-weather leaders. Also, we should make sure that we sing out the great news, too. Be a great source for all types of information, guidance, and support.