They say you aren’t really a marketer until you’ve been fired at least once. It doesn’t matter whether they eliminate your job or fire you for messing up. The feelings and the process are virtually the same.
And while nobody relishes the prospect of unexpected unemployment, getting fired is a part of the business you can anticipate and prepare for. Here are six critical things to consider.
A Decision Was Made. By the time your manager or HR approaches you, either for a reduction in force or a termination for cause, the die has been cast. You can bet that several people and managers have considered and blessed the decision. There is generally no room for reconsideration or reversal. Accept the decision gracefully. It’s a done deal. You can’t really do much about it anyway.
Don’t Act Out. You will probably be pissed. Stifle yourself. There’s no percentage in throwing a fit, cursing out your boss, or unloading an array of feelings and epithets. You just end up looking like a jerk and eliminating what little leverage you have left. Most people doing the firing feel bad about it. Their guilt is your wiggle room. Don’t squander it by freaking out.
Find the Wiggle Room. Unless you screwed up colossally or got crosswise with the CEO, they will not immediately have security escort you from the building. You have a small window to collect things, get samples of your work, and negotiate for an end date at the end of the month or the end of the pay period. You can sometimes negotiate an exit story that HR will tell your team, your clients, or your next employer.
Get Information. Once you’re out, COBRA, severance, unemployment coverage, compensation for unused sick and vacation days, references, outplacement options, and access to your work product become your main concerns. This information can be complex and convoluted. Solicit it when you’re in the right frame of mind. Focus on this stuff. Channel your surprise, anger, and resentment into taking care of yourself and preparing yourself for the next adventure. These things will make or break the transition period until you get your next gig. Don’t underestimate their value.
Rally References. If you are laid off, get your manager to endorse and recommend you on LinkedIn and get a written reference. If you are fired for cause, find somebody on your team who likes you to volunteer to document this episode on your resume. Get anyone and everyone who worked with you to write a recommendation on LinkedIn.
Chill Out. This can be difficult to do, but force yourself. Sometimes it’s personal. Sometimes it’s not. Getting fired is like getting the flu. If it doesn’t kill you. It makes you stronger. If you screwed up royally, some quiet reflection and introspection is in order. If you didn’t, assume you randomly drew the short straw and move on. Too many people squander time and energy wondering “what if” or badmouthing their peers or their bosses. What’s done is done. There are no do-overs. Move on.
Getting fired is part of your initiation and maturation into the business. Hopefully it will only happen once in your career. But if it happens, be realistic about your situation and face it with courtesy and grace.
Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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