Friday, December 11th, 2015 at 9:45am.
That’s the day I got fired.
Getting terminated was a huge shock. Not because I was working for my Dream Company or in my Dream Job, but because of the way it was handled. It was either luck or divine intervention, but 3 weeks later I met the team at Higher Landing, immediately connected with their mandate, and was thrilled to receive an offer to join them. Leading up to this, I had been networking for 8 months trying to find my Dream Job, so had taken a lot of time to think about the types of opportunities I was open to and what I truly valued in my career, future colleagues and employer. It’s taken a lot of soul-searching and reflecting, and while I wasn’t handled with care, I have learned a lot from my recent experiences. I learned what not to do as I progress into future leadership positions. The three key lessons I learned from being terminated and moving forward in my career: Dignity, Brand and Values.
1. DEPART WITH DIGNITY
Getting fired on a Friday sucks. It’s unprofessional, unnecessary and just downright nasty. Never, ever fire on a Friday!
If you are making the tough decision to exit someone from your business, please remember that it’s a human being on the other side of the table, and they deserve to be treated with respect. Do ask them to meet with you early in the day and week. Don’t disguise the meeting as wanting to meet for some other reason, and then hand them a pink slip.
Here’s the human element when you terminate on a Friday: You leave your employee to sit at home for the weekend, without any offer of professional resources to speak with, wondering what they’re going to do with themselves come Monday morning, so instead their anger and frustrations continue to build. For myself, I walked around in a daze, as the way my departure and the things that were said to me seemed like something that would happen in a bad dream. It was two weeks before Christmas. I had to go home and explain what happened to my boyfriend, who’s position was eliminated just two months prior due to the downturn in the economy, that we were both now unemployed. I was in shock that people I’d worked with for nearly 6 years could be so cold and callous.
It doesn’t have to be this way, and Higher Landing is here to advise and assist in the event you are transitioning staff from your organization. Our goal in working with our clients is that every departure is done with dignity.
2. YOUR BRAND IN THE MARKETPLACE MATTERS
The recession we are experiencing in Alberta today is very different than what I experienced back in 2009. I’ve heard terrible stories of people being walked out the door with no reason and a one-week severance package. Of professionals not being recognized for their long histories with an organization. Of managers not being given the opportunity to say goodbye to their staff, asked to leave without a handshake or a Thank-You for their service to the company.
You also let your former employee go out into the world with that bad taste in their mouth. When you terminate an employee go without compassion or care, you’re letting their experience and network walk out the door with them. You’re allowing those negative stories about your company to circulate. What stories do you want circulating about you as a manager and your company?
As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I have always kept this quote in the back of my mind when interacting with others, whether professionally or personally. I would encourage any professional who is faced with the difficult decision of exiting an employee to do the same.
3. TAKE THE TIME TO THINK ABOUT YOUR VALUES
While I was networking and contemplating my next career move, I spoke with one of my very wise contacts who was able to point out pretty quickly that my value system didn’t align with my employer’s. Once he said this, it seemed so obvious, but it was never really anything I’d taken the time to think about. After that conversation, I started thinking about what my value system truly is. What was it that I was looking for in my next career move?
When you have transitioned from a company, take the time to think about your own values. For me, one thing I value is working for a company that walks the walk. When they make recommendations to clients, they truly believe in them and emulate them for their own employees. Maybe for you, it’s working for a company where you can leverage your passion for fashion or the environment. There are no wrong answers here and you can dream big!
You now have the freedom to find a career with an employer who appreciates you as an employee, is invested in your goals and aspirations, and treats people with dignity and respect. This is a rare but very important opportunity. See it as a gift and investment in yourself that will pay dividends for many years to come.
Have a positive or negative termination story to share? I invite you to connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me about your experience. You can read more about the Do’s and Do Not’s of terminating here.
I’m Aymie Rondeau, the Client Experience Director at Higher Landing. Higher Landing is an innovative, results-focused, career transformation company that provides collaborative go-to-market assistance for individuals serious about reinventing their career. We are leading the evolution of the outplacement and transition industry by offering our transformation clients a cutting-edge program delivered by a multi-faceted team of professionals who provide complete career transformation.
You can learn more about Higher Landing by checking out our website (www.higherlanding.com), and you can contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our corporate and individual programs.