Losing a job/ being made redundant / right-sized / axed are becoming the norm of the day in a fast – paced corporate life. Unfortunately this isn’t one of the chapters taught in any management school (not in the fancy induction event when joining the company) so I took it upon myself to be a self-published evangelist – using a first-hand experience to jot down notes during the roller coaster emotional ride till I found another role.

Background

Being fired is an art which one should be well – conversed with.

Without it, it’s like being a newly qualified driver who does not know what to do if he was in an accident – so experience would certainly help.

It’s a welcome thing to happen if you are approaching retirement and your bones crack every-time you make the effort to come out of bed on winter mornings and are secure in the knowledge of a hefty severance package.

But – not all of us would be that fortunate and most of us would be younger with kids, mortgage and bills to go for the next 20-25 years – so this self-help guide might be handy.

There are couple of danger signs to look for before the axe falls – things like

  • You hate your Job / Boss
  • You lose your voice
  • You get Negative feedback
  • The economy is working against you
  • You are not personally productive
  • You are resistant to change
  • There are suggestive comments in the press

If you are smart – then you would recognize the writing on the wall and jump ship at the first opportunity.

But if still the inevitable happens there are common reactions one feels like

(Especially if you, like me are a first-timer – successful, hardworking till date)

  • Pity – Why me?
  • Anger – My boss saved his skin by picking on me!
  • Shame – How will I face my wife / friends? How can I put a brave face in front of my daughter?
  • Fear – How will I pay my mortgage? What happens when my friends find out?
  • Sadness – You feel bad for yourself – how dumb could you be not to see it coming?
  • Lonely – Yes that’s one of the strongest feelings I went through!!  It was like being the imprisoned Napoleon on St .Helena

Personalize the experience (contrary to what the experts say!)  – While the lay-offs are not (normally) person-specific but position specific – your experiences would be exactly that – yours!  It is perfectly normal to go through a myriad of emotions and there is no point of either bottling it up or trying to be English about it. When a number of emotions clash against each other they find vent in the simplest of words – and in my case it was a simple – Why me?

Heaving it off your chest will make you feel lighter and better so do it!

Take the time to distill & crystallize the emotions, knowledge & experience so you come out as a far more resilient person. Also talk to people about what could have gone better – and normally people will give you frank and unbiased feedback – take it even though it’s sometimes it feels like rubbing salt to your wounds.

…..But don’t listen to your “frenemies.” But know who to listen to. I remember a lady-lizard who very kindly told me that my attitude had a problem – notwithstanding the fact my never-say-die attitude was an example adored by many. Mentally, I chose to squat the lizard and drown her in the loo. And felt relieved about it.

Cut the umbilical cord quicker than you can say cheese– There is no point in ruminating over the past – just get over it. Former colleagues’ forced smiles are needless – so spare the pain. It’s a wide www world – so firmly close the door and move on – they are as happy with / without you as chickens are in a chicken coop awaiting their turn.

Also remember that your demise presents an opportunity to some of them to expand their sphere of influence and brag that all important promotion / rise – so imperative you detach yourself mentally from it as soon as you can by being stoic about it . I am not saying burn that bridge –just move on from that!

It’s important to have connections outside of your company.  – Networking. It does sound like a management school clique – but like all olden (akin golden) sayings this too has advantages you realize when you are old in the cold … so while your calendar is full or you might be running around the office like a headless horseman – do take the time to network – it’s an investment & insurance in dire times.

The best jobs are never advertised – this may sound like a clique but ignore it at your own peril and join the hordes hunting every advertised job! I chased many advertised jobs yet managed to land a job which was not even advertised – so hopefully this adds credence to the case.

Hold your emotions & decisions in check – There was an Indian Prime Minister who famously quoted – not taking a decision is itself a decision. This could not be truer than when you were not in a right frame of mind.

(Being fired certainly ranks on the top of the list!). So take the time to absorb the blow, put your life in slow introspective mode and resist the urge to jump back – you might be jumping straight back into shit for all you know! A normal rule of thumb is – you are ready to take important decisions only if you can think of the firing with humor (like the constipated look on your bosses face when he read the riot act to you!) That’s a sign that you have come to terms with it and ready to take control again! It took me 3 months to come to terms and plan rationally again.

Nobody cares as much about it nearly as much as you do. I promise.

….But candor helps with future employers. Evading the question wasn’t a particularly good idea in 2000, when your awkward silence may have been a give-away. In this age of social media, it’s an even worse idea.  Own it and be a man! Be firm and matter-of-fact with the consultants on call. Last but not the least – don’t try to justify or rationalize it. It has happened – Period!

If you don’t get fired at least once, you’re not trying hard enough. This isn’t quite true yet, but it is becoming truer .As the pace of change in business increases, the chances of having a placid career are receding. And if in this period of rapid change, you’re not making some notable mistakes along the way, you’re certainly not taking enough business and career chances.  Remember – you cannot cross an even a small puddle in 2 steps – you will need to take one large, bold step!

You can’t beat someone who won’t give up. Yes, I read this on a bumper sticker, but then that’s being English, isn’t?

The 5 deadly A’s in your Arsenal to fight back 

Absolute determination – Absolute determination is the ability to remain focused on your goals –even in the face of adversity.

Ability to find meaning – The ability to find meaning will help to give a sense of purpose to the tasks you face. When your goal has meaning for you, you’re better equipped to handle any setbacks.

Adaptability and improvisation – Adaptability and improvisation enable resilient people to find creative solutions to problems.

Action orientation – Action orientation is based around four core ideals:

* Self-awareness: An awareness of how you think, feel, and react to setbacks and challenges. Self-aware people can identify reasons for their success or failure.
* Self-management: It’s not enough to simply be aware of your strengths and weakness. You also need to know what to do with this information.
* Accept responsibility: Bouncing back from failure always involves taking responsibility for your actions and reactions. You’re not responsible for everything that happens around you. However, you are responsible for your reactions to events.
* Keep working: Those with the ability to bounce back will always keep working toward a solution. Even when faced with obstacles and setbacks, they keep taking action to overcome them.

Acceptance of reality – Acceptance of reality refers to the fact that you need to be aware of the reality of your situation, and have the ability to separate fact from opinions and feelings. This allows you to separate your own failures from failures outside of your control.

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Partha Chatterjee

Partha is a commercially astute delivery-focused Prince 2-certified Senior Test Manager with 14 years QA experience in IT and business transformation across global financial organizations leading large Global onsite-offshore test programs & projects in a Programme Test Manager / Senior Test Manager capacity . He has managed transitions and knowledge transfer for test outsourcing programs across vendors with minimal impact to BAU work. Partha possess a solid grounding in Test Management and has defined end to end testing process and managed large multiple projects/portfolio (80-100 members) on a global scale and has strong leadership skills.

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