The boss said, “Sorry, we don’t need you anymore.” That’s devastating to hear. And the consequences can be hugely expensive. This happened to three recent clients who came to Lucrative Careers after they were caught by surprise with an abrupt termination. At first, they said there had been no warning. Later, however, when we talked through what had happened, they came to see there were very clear signs they should have seen and acted upon.
Dana loved her job and was the office superstar. She was so excited about her job that some friends were amused. They’d say, we don’t know anyone who loves their job even half as much as you. All that ended when her boss left the company and her new boss reassigned her, giving her responsibilities that she found tedious and uninteresting. Dana was upset and lost her motivation. She had a legitimate beef, but foolishly thought she could hide her feelings. Unfortunately, most everyone read her feelings—loud and clear—especially her new boss. Many people who hate their jobs wrongly believe others don’t know what their thinking.
Brian’s close relationship with the COO made him very influential. But over time, the COO came to rely more on the advice of another manager named Martha. The COO overruled Brian on a few key decisions, and then he assigned some of Brian’s responsibilities to Martha. Brian still had his title, but clearly, he’d been demoted—and he was very vulnerable. However, Brian didn’t take action to get out. Instead, he played along, and put on a happy face, confident that he would soon regain the trust of the COO. He didn’t see—or couldn’t admit–that he was on his way out. If you’re getting no positive signs about your job performance, the company may be looking for a replacement.
Brian also said he’d noticed he was “out of the loop.” At one time, he was among the first to know about important events and issues; but soon, he began to notice that most everyone else knew about things by the time he found out. He also learned after the fact about key meetings. When he asked why he hadn’t been invited, he was told someone “forgot” to tell him. Further, the COO, who once had an open-door policy with him, was often “too busy” to talk and it became difficult to arrange meetings with him. Brian was feeling isolated.
A thinly-veiled hostility permeated Matt’s relationship with his Vice President. A couple of times, they even had loud, explosive arguments. Matt was a bit nervous about the tension between them, but he put his fears to rest when things suddenly improved. The VP was inexplicably pleasant. Matt felt relieved. He shouldn’t have been. He got a pink slip the next week. Since the VP knew he was being let go, there was no reason to be hostile.
Beware of sudden change in your treatment—good or bad. Ask this question: “If this person knew I was about to be fired, would their behavior make sense?”
Is any of this happening to you? If so, it’s time to take action. Here are three things you can do.
1) Acknowledge the situation and negotiate a way out. If there was some level of trust with her boss, Dana might have put her cards on the table, saying, “Obviously, this isn’t working. Can we have a discussion about phasing out?” She could negotiate severance and/or time to look for a new job.
2) Get yourself ready for your job search. Update and upgrade your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and other marketing materials. You may want to get some professional help. I’ve noticed that many (even most) people have a very tough time articulating their own contributions. We’re just too close to them to see them objectively. This is particularly true for those who have been in the same company for a number of years. Also, a career coach can help you get clarity about what’s next for you and develop a solid plan for getting there. A long, protracted job search can be hugely expensive.
3) Set up projects and outside-the-office activities. If it’s not feasible to have a frank discussion about moving on, see if you can build some flexibility into your schedule to give you freedom to covertly network and go on interviews. This might be attending conferences, meeting with clients or vendors, or remote work. Then crank up a job campaign pronto!
4) Consult a lawyer about available remedies, if you think you have a case for discrimination against you because you belong to a protected class: race, creed, color, age, gender, etc.. Sometimes, the threat of a discrimination case can be more powerful than actually filing one, and it can give you leverage and confidence in negotiating severance. That said, you may not want to actually sue your employer. Be sure to talk with an attorney about the pros and cons.
Be in action. Don’t wait to be let go. If you’d like to have a no-obligation discussion about your situation, set up a time in our calendar: https://calendly.com/lucrative-careers or call 847.409.4660.
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