One issue that many companies really struggle with is that of communicating the news of an employee’s dismissal to other staff. Many say nothing, perhaps thinking that it is the right, confidential thing to do. However, it leaves a void for others to fill with rumour, their version of events and conjecture.

This weekend, the BBC sacked Jeremy Clarkson – or, rather, decided not to renew his contract at the end of this month – and have delivered a masterclass in how to handle potentially difficult communications. Just as you can be sure the lawyers were all over this statement, you can be equally sure it’s the right example to follow. The video statement was given by BBC Director General, Tony Hall, throughout which he appeared quiet, calm and very sincere. And this is what he said:

  • The decision taken was based on the facts.
  • It has been a difficult time for all.
  • He confirmed the facts uncovered by the investigation – Clarkson had subjected his producer to a tirade of verbal abuse followed by a physical attack.
  • Then followed an appreciation of Jeremy’s talents.
  • Next, the real payload and reason for making the announcement. An opportunity to relate this incident to the values of the organisation and thereby reaffirming its position – crucial when communicating the desired culture of the organisation. Tony Hall broached this by saying that Jeremy’s talents could not be accepted at ‘any price’ and stating clearly that a line had been crossed.
  • He then talked about the importance of defining the future for Top Gear and set expectations by acknowledging that ‘yes, it will be different’.
  • Finally, he thanked Jeremy for his fantastic contribution to Top Gear and wished him every success for the future.

Wonderful. Brilliant. If you want to see the announcement yourself it is included in this posting from the BBC.

Sacking anyone is a tough decision to make. But don’t hesitate to make a clear statement about why it has been done. People need to know.

To find out how Converse Well can help you turn difficult feedback situations into opportunities to motivate and engage your staff, call 020 8870 9036 or 07734 944 515 or email