“I mean, there’s no arguing. There is no anything. There is no beating around the bush. ‘You’re fired’ is a very strong term.”
~ Donald Trump ~
Tricia just got fired. Security is putting her personal items in a cardboard box and escorting her to her car. She is in shock.
What now? Her first reaction is to drive far, far away and scream loudly about the unfairness of it all. Doubtless this has happened to the majority of you at one time or another. And screaming, however good it might feel for a moment or two, is not the answer. Instead, follow this plan for closing the door on the past and opening the door to new opportunities.
Stay calm. You may be tempted to verbally retaliate, especially if you feel the firing was unfair, and you probably do. Instead, keep calm. Having a conversation now, while tensions are high, can lead to saying things you’ll regret later.
Be thankful. Thank your boss, the HR representative, or whoever else just let you go for the opportunity they have given you. Be sincere. Any job is an opportunity to learn. And despite being fired, these very same people may be critical to you landing your next position.
Update your social media. Don’t rush to Facebook and slam your now former employer. Don’t tweet sarcastic haikus on Twitter. Instead, let the world know you’re now in the market for a new opportunity. Focus on the positive.
The Next Day
Register for unemployment. In most states, as long as you weren’t fired for willful misconduct, you’ll be eligible for unemployment. Not only will these benefits help tide you over financially while you’re planning what’s next, but the state job service is a valuable source for locating open positions.
Polish up your resume. – Highlight your key skills and experience that fit the types of positions you’ll be applying for. Use quantitative results to really show the value you’ll bring to your next employer. (“Reduced department expenses by 15%.” “Increased sales by 12%.”) Don’t be afraid to brag about your accomplishments!
Start networking. Contact your industry acquaintances and others outside of your industry to let them know you’re in the market. Even if they don’t have an open position ask, “Who else do you know that might be interested in my skills? “Often, the best positions are filled by internal referrals.
Use Internet job boards to the max. There are two ways employers find candidates on job boards: by your response to their job postings and by finding your resume when they search the site.
Create a system. Track each position you apply to, each website you register with, and every person you network with. Because your next move involves following up.
The Next Week
Follow up. Send everyone you’ve contacted a quick e-mail, or give them a call. Remind them about your last conversation and what you’re looking for.
Directly contact companies you’d like to work for. Some of the best positions never reach public job postings. If a company is interested in your skill set they may even create a position for you. If you’re a fit, they know they are making a good investment.
Tricia vowed to treat her job search like a full time job. Although the distractions of being at home were difficult at first, she scheduled her day around the search–eight hours every day, either networking, job searching, or following up. She found her new job in less than six weeks.
No matter where you are in the fired-or-laid-off process, review our checklist and make a plan. Do the things you haven’t been doing and drop the things that aren’t producing results.
Talkback: What’s been your job search strategy? Share your tips and successes here.
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“You do your best work if you do a job that makes you happy.”
~ Bob Ross ~
Client Lindsey Asks: Lately I’ve had a funny feeling at work. I’m apprehensive because I don’t think things are going well. I’m doing my job, the same as always, but I seem to be left out of the loop. I’m not invited to meetings but later I find out through the grapevine that people have made decisions that actually affect my work. Am I about to get fired? This isn’t exactly my dream job, but it’s been a good job and in this economy, I don’t want to lose it. I’m feeling very scared.
Coach Joel Answers: There are several clear signs that you’ve fallen out of favor with your boss and your job may be in jeopardy. You’ve already mentioned one of them. If you suddenly find that you’re no longer in the loop about things, that’s typically a bad sign. It’s often the first and most subtle sign that your time may be short. When you’re being kept out of decisions and new information that you normally would have been involved in, that’s a red flag. And if you’re seeing a reduction in your responsibilities, it could mean you’re being phased out.
A more obvious sign that your job is on the rocks would be overt criticism from your boss, or a poor performance review. Often companies will “build a case” for letting an employee go in order to avoid a potential wrongful termination suit. This case building typically includes documentation of performance issues, as well as written warnings and documented disciplinary actions. It may also include mentoring or coaching from your boss. This could have one of two purposes: it could either bring your performance back in line with the company’s expectations or it could serve as more documentation to support firing you.
Other obvious signs include: seeing a job posting or ad that matches your job description; being notified of a pay cut, or being moved into a position with fewer or no employees reporting directly to you.
What can you do to turn things around? What can you do to turn things around? First, decide if this is the job you really want. You mentioned that this isn’t your dream job. Would being terminated open the door to new opportunities?
If, however, you really want to hold onto this job, you need to take immediate positive action.
If you know your performance has been sub-par and you feel like you’ve fallen out of favor with your boss, talk to him or her. Explain that you’d like to make an immediate course correction and really become a valuable member of the organization. Ask what specific changes s/he would like to see and write them down. Then develop a written plan based on what your boss has said and have it on his/her desk within 48 hours.
Keep your enthusiasm high and your attitude positive. Schedule a follow-up meeting with your boss to discuss your progress. Assuming that the decision to let you go hasn’t been written in stone yet, your actions could give you a second chance to turn your situation around.
Assuming you want to stay where you are, make a list of things you like about your job. Make another list of specific tasks or areas where you think you could improve. Within the next week, schedule a meeting with your boss to work out an improvement plan.
Talkback: Have you ever been almost fired? What actions did you take to avoid it? Share your story here.
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“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.”
~ Alexander Graham Bell ~
Letting an employee go is not a task to be taken lightly. If done in the wrong way, there can be unpleasant and long-lasting complications. This can include everything from expressions of unhappiness and stress from remaining employees to dealing with a negative reputation for the company, and even legal ramifications.
Don’t Be the Villain
In today’s world, disgruntled employees and former employees can easily spread the word about a company and what an employee considers to be unfair practices. This can result in a company that once appeared stellar suddenly looking like a villain in the eyes of hundreds or even thousands of online readers.
In many instances, the only way to repair this type of damage is with the help of online reputation management professionals like those at Reputation.com. Obviously, rather than dealing with such a frustrating situation at all, it is much wiser to let employees go in a way that will be as painless as possible for everyone concerned.
Who Needs to Know?
Letting an employee go is a very delicate subject. After all, the employee has a lot riding on that decision.
From the time the decision to let an employee go to the time the employee is actually told about the decision, privacy is top priority.
When it is decided that an employee should be let go, the decision should be kept quiet. To eliminate concerns about gossip or discussions about the decision, only the employee’s direct supervisors should be told about the decision in advance.
Clearly, the employee should be told about the decision in a private setting. Ideally it should be done in the manager’s office, and the door should be shut. The next best option is in a neutral setting that offers privacy, such as a break room or conference room.
Until recently, it was accepted practice that separations be handled at the end of the day on Friday. However, that has recently changed. Nowadays it is becoming increasingly common to deliver such news earlier in the day, or even earlier in the week.
Rationales for this include the fact that if the employee finds out about the separation earlier in the week, he/she can immediately begin a job search. Plus, a separation at the end of the day on Friday could leave the employee with no choice but to sit around all weekend worrying about his/her situation.
This can result in increased stress and anxiety. In some cases, anger can build or the individual can become extremely distraught.
Professionalism with a Personal Touch
Being let go from a company hurts. Employees in this position deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. A manager should take the time to explain the reason for the decision. If employees feel they are treated unfairly – as in, they are let go without cause – the company’s reputation may be at risk.
It is common for the employee to have questions. The manager should answer those to the best of his/her ability. These questions may relate to things like severance pay, any 401K plans, insurance, COBRA, retirement, or other benefits/compensation offered by the company.
Offering parting resources such as information about unemployment, job training, employment counseling, and local small business development organizations can be especially helpful at this stressful time.
Being let go is upsetting. It’s emotionally disturbing, to say the least. Many people appreciate having a chance to vent after such a traumatic event. Exit interviews provide that opportunity. In some cases, the tools provided during these interviews can help people find closure after a job separation.
Debbie Allen, founder of TheThingsWomenWant.com, is a professional writer and blogger who specializes in topics of interest to women and online marketing strategies.
Talkback: What are your experiences with letting employees go? Do you typically handle separations early in the week, or do you wait until Friday? Have you ever thought about creating a termination resource packet to be used when handling separations?
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The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity.
~ Thomas J. Peters ~
Although many companies lay off employees to cut costs and increase productivity, the result is often the opposite. In most cases, downsizing hurts productivity. A case study that was done on the fire department in Hampton, New Hampshire provides some insight into why this is true.
As part of the study, fire safety personnel were surveyed about their experiences with layoffs. Here are some of the results:
- The number of respondents who were very satisfied with their jobs was 72% before the layoffs and 11% after.
- The number who said they were not very satisfied was 3% before and 44% after.
- 47% of the employees who remained after the layoffs considered looking for work at another organization.
- Prior to the layoffs, 97% would have recommended their workplace to others. This dropped to 39% after the layoffs.
- 72% believed that downsizing had hurt productivity.
- 81% said that the layoffs had caused a drop in employee morale.
Of course, a single case study doesn’t prove that downsizing hurts productivity, but this is not an isolated occurrence. In 1996, the American Management Association conducted a study on companies that had downsized. They discovered that only about one-third of them had increased their productivity after downsizing.
Another study also found that downsizing hurts productivity. Some of the factors cited as reasons for the loss of productivity included the voluntary resignation of survivors, failure of those left behind to keep up the increased workload, resistance to change, and inexperience on the part of new employees who were hired to replace those who resigned.
If you are forced to cut labor costs, you should expect that there will be negative repercussions in the form of reduced productivity and morale, lowered employee trust in management, and valued employees who were not laid off leaving to work elsewhere. Although you can’t completely avoid these issues, there are ways you can reduce their impact.
7 Ways to Avoid a Loss of Productivity after Downsizing
- Avoid layoffs if possible.
Make sure your employees know that layoffs are a last resort that you will only consider when there are no other options.
- Ask for cost-saving ideas from your employees.
They may be able to help you come up with a way to cut costs without cutting their jobs.
- Tell the whole truth.
Be truthful with your employees, and don’t withhold information. Let them know what is going on.
- Treat them as you’d like to be treated.
Think about how you would feel if you were the one whose job was being cut. Try to treat your employees the way you would want to be treated.
- Keep it positive.
There are still good things going on at work. Help your employees focus on their successes.
- Think ahead.
Planning long-term projects demonstrates to your employees that you believe the future of the company is secure. Get them excited about being a part of that future.
- Share the load.
Your employees are going to be overloaded with work due to a shortage of staff and resources. Offer to help when possible and work with them to determine priorities so that they are focusing on the tasks that are most important.
Maintaining employee morale in the face of layoffs is not an easy task, but it is something every manager should strive for. By keeping employees motivated and productive during downsizing, you can increase your company’s chances of making a full recovery to its former strength.
Garfinkle Outplacement Services offers a 9-step employee outplacment process. Consider providing outplacement for workers to help your employees survive—and thrive—as they transition to new employment opportunities.
The driving force of a career must come from the individual. Remember: Jobs are owned by the company; you own your career!
~ Earl Nightingale ~
If you are being forced to lay off employees, you have probably already given some thought to applying downsizing motivation theory to keep your surviving employees motivated before, during, and after the layoffs. However, you should also be concerned about motivating your exiting employees. Employees who are laid off are much more likely to speak negatively about the company if they are given little or no support as they transition back into the job market.
When it comes to motivating those who are experiencing loss, encouragement is key. As George Mattew Adams wrote, “Encouragement is like oxygen for the soul.” It is during the most difficult times in a person’s life that encouragement is most needed and appreciated. Losing a job is one of those times. By offering encouragement to your exiting employees, you will help them keep a positive outlook, which is essential as they try to find new jobs.
Here are six ways you can encourage your exiting employees to keep their spirits up as they begin their job search:
- Encourage them to take action.
Acknowledge their fears, but help them create a solid plan to find a new job and encourage them to take concrete steps to move forward in spite of their fears.
- Encourage them to focus on their strengths.
Consider working with an outplacement coaching service to help your employees identify their strengths, accomplishments, and potential.
- Emphasize the positives.
Many times, employees who are laid off will end up in positions that are better suited to their skills and personality. Others may find that it gives them the courage they need to pursue their dreams.
- Help them see the possibilities.
Opportunities are everywhere. Encourage your exiting employees to be alert to new opportunities, from pursuing a different career path to starting their own businesses.
- Provide resources to help them find a new job or career.
Implement an outplacement program that incorporates job skill training, resume services, and other career transition services that will help them find new jobs.
- Listen without being judgmental.
Displaced workers often need someone who will listen to their concerns and fears. Allow them to express their anxieties and try to encourage them as much as possible.
Encouragement is the single most important component when downsizing employees—even more important than teaching employees who haven’t had to look for work lately how to find a new job in today’s high-tech job market. Sometimes a single encouraging word is all it takes to motivate someone who is feeling defeated.
Do you want to offer something a little more solid to support your exiting employees as they try to find new jobs? Consider a career outplacement program to help them unleash the power of networking and land the jobs they’ve always dreamed of.