Published on May 5th, 2004 by Alan L Sklover
CASE HISTORY: Rebecca was certain that the “ax would fall” any day. Business was off, rumors were flying of either restructuring or downsizing, and everyone was sending out resumes. She didn’t know what she could or should do.
LESSON TO BE LEARNED: Every year at this time there are lots of employment transitions. Many people decide to make job changes after the new year, once promotions are announced, with another full year’s bonus and 401(k) contribution in their pockets. Employers, too, tend to make key personnel changes around this time of the year.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO: If you’re laid off, or think you might be? A thoughtful, proactive response to events and circumstances in your life – especially unwelcome events and circumstances — is always in your interests. So if the ax falls, or if you think it’s about to:
FIRST: “Don’t do anything.” That is, don’t react impulsively, spontaneously or emotionally. In a sense, just sit back, take a few moments and think about the situation, and make your first job simply to keep calm. If you need to, take a walk, call in sick and see a movie, or do whatever you enjoy most . . . you deserve something nice, so give it to yourself.
SECOND: “Take stock.” With regard to each of your personal life, your career, and your finances, consider these two critical questions: (a) What are my true needs? (b) What are my true resources? Put pen to paper, and make a list. Every transition is stressful. Knowing the sources and boundaries of your stresses can help give you a sense of mastery of those stresses. And it is critical to limit stress and its effects during such difficult, unwelcome transitions. By identifying the gap between your true needs and your true resources you’ve defined your truly pressing problem. You may even discover you don’t have such a pressing problem after all.
THIRD: “Determine your approach.” If you haven’t yet received definite word that you’ve been let go, it’s quite possible you may not be. In that case, you should consider emphasizing your desire to take on additional, new and challenging responsibilities – just the kind of people who will be needed after a downsizing. Let people know of your “unique human capital,” that is, your special talents, contacts, abilities . . . what makes you appear valuable, perhaps even invaluable . . . what some people call a “keeper.” On the other hand, if you’ve already been given your termination notice, your better negotiation approach will be to your employer’s perception of the “risk” you may embody. You may have a legal claim against your employer, or a right or entitlement that has not been fulfilled. Whether you want to stay, or you want to move on with a severance package, you will have to choose between one of these two seminal approaches in your negotiation strategy.
If you would like to obtain a “model” memo to help you request or negotiate severance [click here].
FOURTH: “Concentrate on your P.P.O.P.P.’s” regardless of your path forward. These days, large companies aren’t one big monolithic structure; they’re really a galaxy of Persons and Pockets Of Power and Profit (what we call “P.P.O.P.P.’s”) who somehow, some way manage to cooperate enough to work and stay together. Negotiation is a matter of motivating another person, and remember that motivation is personal in nature. You’ve got to determine exactly who your “P.P.O.P.P.’s” are, and motivate them. That’s who will really make the decisions you seek. Whatever your upcoming negotiaton, remember that “You’ll need to think seriously about your ‘P.P.O.P.P.’s’ before your ‘P.P.O.P.P.’s’ will think seriously about you.” While seeking your needs, first think of their perception of their own needs. That’s critical.
FIFTH: “Prepare, Practice and Project.” A transition is going to happen, one way or the other. Prepare to make a “sale,” a “pitch,” or a “proposal” of the kind you’re always making on the job. Only thing is, this is not on the job, it “is the job.” In this instance, you’re doing for yourself simply what you do for your employer 52 weeks a year. Remember that negotiation is not what happens AT the table; negotiation success is determined a lot more by what happens BEFORE you get to the negotiation table. Choose your “P.P.O.P.P.” target, analyze how your “P.P.O.P.P.” views the situation, determine what you need and want, prepare your motivating approach, and practice, practice, practice. At that point, it’s time to sit down, and project yourself, your goals, and why you’ve deserved of them.
Alan Sklover’s Timeless Classic, Newly Updated and Revised
Fired, Downsized, or Laid Off:
What Your Employer Does NOT Want You to Know
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