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I know we have casts on How to Resign, but what about when you’re told that due to financial challenges, your position has been eliminated?

What’s the right, proper, professional (Manager Tools) way to respond?

I’ll lay it out for you, like a mini-case study. It’s all true – it just happened to me. But I’m not going to include what actions I’ve thought to do, because I’d like to see this become a discussion about what a Manager Tools Manager [i]ought to do[/i], so it’s not about me. If I leave something critical out, I’ll gladly fill in the blanks with subsequent posts, or answers to questions.

I look forward to learning from the MT community.

Let’s give it a go:

I am a senior manager; I lead a large Client team that develops and executes loyalty marketing for an international airline (that is, a frequent flyer program). I work for a large marketing agency, and the team I lead is highly matrixed. Members of the team are located with me, near the Client’s offices on the East Coast of the US, in our Midwestern US Headquarters, and overseas, near the Client’s headquarters.

The account is one of the largest and most financially successful for my Agency, and the Client is a “flagship” brand for the Agency. But my Agency is facing it’s fifth straight year of financial losses (privately held, and the owners have been willing to tolerate multiple turnaround attempts).

I’ve been with this Agency for almost 12 years, in four jobs: each a little more challenging, a little more senior, and a little more rewarding.

Last week, I was told that due to the cost cutting measures being taken – including broad layoffs – my position would be eliminated. I was provided with a fair severance arrangement. I was told my last day on the payroll would be a little more than two weeks from the day of this meeting. I was advised: “You’re not expected to work out the rest of the time. We expect you to handle whatever transition is required, but for today, you should go home. Come back in to clear out your belongings in a few days, when you’re ready. And then you don’t need to come back in.”

Now this may READ a little brutal, but I feel that it was delivered with empathy. But it also left a VERY wide open way for me to react – there was very little (almost nothing) required of me.

So what ought a Manger Tools Manager do between that meeting and the last day at the Agency?

-Hugh MacNiven
[email protected]

ashdenver's picture

Personally, I'd be sorely tempted to pack up & head straight for the door!

Honestly though, I'd probably go home for the day like they said, give it a day or two at home (to start prepping & networking for the job search) and then make a point to drop by for an hour or so each day thereafter.

With broad layoffs, I imagine you can network with fellow workers on their way out, tie up loose ends and offer any assistance they might need during the brief time you're still there.

If they greet your second arrival with "No, you really need to pack up & clear out for good" or "Hand in your security badge & never come back" then I'd take that with a grain of salt and wish them well. They may truly not need your input or there may be a consultant somewhere whispering in their ear that a laid off employee (no matter how senior) could be a workplace-violence threat that should be preemptively mitigated by complete removal at the soonest possible opportunity.

If that happens, so be it. You rose above, you tried to be the most professional you could and now you're 100% free to network fast & furiously!

pmoriarty's picture

Sorry to hear about you getting laid off. :(

Call your colleagues and others who may be depending on you, explain our situation and ask if there is anything they need for transition. Do your best to supply it.

Come back in and pack up your stuff. Be graceful.

Avoid coming back to the office afterwards. From what you describe, it sounds like the company would prefer that you no longer come into the office.

Best of luck!

WillDuke's picture

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. As others have said, what they want from you is pretty clear.

The resignation cast is all about easing transition and leaving a good impression. Since it doesn't sound like there's much of a transition, there's not much for you to do. If there is some transition assistance you can provide, by all means take the high road and help.

But if there's nothing transitory you can do, then the best thing you can do is not be around. Your smiling face will just be a reminder to others who haven't lost their job. Yet.

Write up some Thank You notes for the professional and kind way in which the news was delivered. Ask for references. Keep the relationships solid, that's the point.

Spend the time on your resume and preparing for interviews.

ccleveland's picture

Hugh,

I’m very sorry this has happened to you. It sounds like the notification was handled very well. You have a great opportunity to choose how to handle your exit. Some lay-offs I’ve seen the individuals are told and then escorted out.

My suggestion is that you review the steps in the [url=http://www.manager-tools.com/2006/07/how-to-resign-part-1-of-3/]How to Resign[/url] podcast and determine what actions you should take. Obviously many of the steps don’t apply; however some of the key items I’d focus on are helping out those that are also leaving, helping out your colleagues that are staying, and making sure that my “customers” are taken care of as best as possible. In your case, priority may be pretty important because, as Ash and Paul pointed out, they may "ask you leave" before your actual end date.

I’ve been laid off once, and I knew it was coming well in advance. I was a project manager on a project that was nearing completion. Much of my last days at work were trying to help my team get settled elsewhere and cleaning up the last deliverables of the project. Of course, I worked on my job search; however, I still tried to do my best for my friends, colleagues, and employer.

Best wishes,

CC

bflynn's picture

Three items come to mind.

1) GIVE YOUR DIRECTS PERFORMANCE REVIEWS. You owe it to them, even if the company doesn't want you to.

2) Know what is happening with your directs. Contact each of them.

3) If possible and appropriate, introduce your directs to their new boss, especially if you know the new boss.

On the other hand, if your entire team is also being let go, there isn't much to do beyond performance reviews.

Then, take a day off, dust off the resume, hit that network and start going. Refocus everything in to getting that next position.

Brian

tlhausmann's picture

In all things be professional. It sounds like you are doing just that.

Your new full-time job is getting interviews, getting offers, and then selecting a new position. I genuinely wish you the best of good fortune.

jhack's picture

Brian Flynn's advice is solid. Take a day to breathe deeply. Come back to the office, tie up loose ends....

A few other things:

1. Make sure you collect up any and all contact information for your network: peers, colleagues, clients, directs, everyone.
2. Schedule a night out (dinner, not just a lot of drinking) with your team to celebrate all the great things you did.
3. Crank up your network. Schedule lunches, coffee shop meetings, etc.
4. Write thank you notes to everyone who ever did you a favor.

Good luck.

John

KS180's picture

Are they going to provide any displaced worker benefits like resume writing, career coaching, or executive search firm assistance?

They have been nice in what they have done for you and now you have to get a job. If there is a broad layoff it is not uncommon for companies to have an outplacement service ready to help.

Good luck,
Kevin Sweeney

HMac's picture

First: Ash, Paul, Will, CC, Brian, tl, Brian, John and Kevin – thank you for your posts and providing your thoughts and encouragement. I really appreciate it.

Answering some of your questions:
Yes, I am pleased that my company provided me with outplacement services. I had my orientation meeting there yesterday, and it’s good to have another resource to draw on (though, thanks to M-T, I don’t need a lot of help on my ONE PAGE resume!).

I did not have time to give performance reviews to my directs (I didn’t think of it in the shock, but that’s a great point, Brian!). But I’ll make sure to write brief overviews for each of them, and give them to them.

My immediate moves were to personally inform my Directs, and my Clients. It seemed like everything else was secondary. In the week since I told my Clients, I’ve received three terrific reference-quality emails from them. I’m going to double back with them and turn them into “real” references.

So what did I do?
1). I went home that day, without drawing any kind of attention to myself or my situation – and I didn’t invest any time in finding out “who else” was affected (I know my entire team was OK, because they’re directly Client-funded).

2). I shared the information with my family that day, and with one or two professional colleagues – mentors, really.

3). I contacted each of my directs (after there was a formal conference call hastily put together by the Company to announce my departure within a few hours of me being notified).

4). I decided that I would only return to my office to clear out my belongings, so I wouldn’t feel like I was “hanging around” unwanted (even though I was still on the payroll). With each of my directs, I told that that I welcomed calls on personal matters at any time (because I wanted them to feel comfortable continuing the relationship), but for business and transition matters, I asked that they call me during the time I was going to be in the office, finishing things up. My reasoning was that I wanted to make a “clean break” – once I left with the pictures of my kids in a box, I wanted to feel that I could put all of my focus on the future, not the past.

5). I went into the office for that last time, reminded directs that I was there and available, organized all files and critical projects, packed up, and went home – so I could really get started on my future.

6). One of the many things I’ve done since (similar to what Will suggested in his post), is I’ve written several dozen individual notes –no “Farewell Email” to a distribution list for me, thank you – and I’ve welcomed their future contact asked for ideas and assistance with my networking, and thanked them for the relationship. The response has been great – really heartwarming!

7), A blur of recruiters, networking, outplacement, Client social calls, “transitioning.” A new adventure. Lots of support. Stay tuned.

asteriskrntt1's picture

We often learn more in these times of adversity than when everything is going swimmingly. Kudos to you, Hugh, for the professional manner in which you handled yourself.

I wish you continued clarity and a swift resolution to your job hunt.

*RNTT

suedavis's picture

[quote="bflynn"]1) GIVE YOUR DIRECTS PERFORMANCE REVIEWS. You owe it to them, even if the company doesn't want you to.[/quote]

Yep, I'm in the middle of that right now.

[quote]2) Know what is happening with your directs. Contact each of them.

3) If possible and appropriate, introduce your directs to their new boss, especially if you know the new boss.[/quote]

Done, and done.

[quote]Then, take a day off, dust off the resume, hit that network and start going. Refocus everything in to getting that next position.[/quote]

I've developed a little ritual around layoffs: go home, drink a beer, and spend the rest of the day absorbing the blow. Then update my resume the next day, and hit the ground running the day after that.

As it turns out, I had just had my six month service anniversary, so I had just done my quarterly resume update, so tomorrow is "hit the ground running" day.

I have three standing "call me if it doesn't work out" offers, and I was wondering whether to leave anyway, so this is probably the least sad-making layoff that I've been through, but I'll definitely miss my team.

asteriskrntt1's picture

Heya Futabachan

Sorry to hear about the layoff. Have you added "leave new contact info with MT community you have been in touch with" to your list? Just wondering.

*RNTT