Walking away (from a job that’s going away) on your terms
Have you just gotten a disciplinary notice after years of stellar performance? If you have and you’ve read Paul Michael’s You're Fired! 20 signs that a pink-slip is coming … (#14) you sense that you're in trouble. Rather than let the progressive disciplinary madness continue, take action.
Here’s what a friend of mine did, after we talked and I agreed with him that a reprimand delivered by human resources most likely portended termination.
First I want to tell you about his accomplishments; he had (for the employer who was looking to fire him):
- brought current industry practices to a good-ole-boy company
- introduced new services, processes, and programs that reaped immediate and ongoing benefits to his area’s performance
- modified internal systems to improve his staff’s analytical tools
- trained and developed a high-performing staff
- turned around the attitude and performance of a particularly ornery employee
- re-focused certain aspects of customer relationships to gain compliance with procedures
- educated internal managers on the significance of his area to the company’s profitability
- completed company-sponsored executive training through a prestigious, industry-recognized program
When he was asked to issue a disciplinary action on the turned-around, ornery employee that he felt was bogus, suspicions were aroused. When he received a written reprimand for a mistake that he had already admitted making and had put processes in place to correct, suspicions were confirmed. Putting pieces of the disciplinary puzzle together, he realized that his company needed to cut headcount; the HR department, rather than advocating for him, sided with his bosses.
Coincidentally, my friend had sold his home just weeks earlier, realizing that the housing market was still strong and aching for a new challenge that might present itself in a different city.
What did he do with his suspicions? He approached his boss (with whom, oddly, he had a great relationship), explained that he knew what was going on, and negotiated a severance package. He agreed to leave the company but faced the inevitable (displacement) on his terms, which included a consulting stint while he looked for another job.
I’d like to say that he found a new job prior to the end of the severance period and consulting assignment. He didn’t. Instead, he moved back home and took care of his mom when she suffered and then recuperated (with his help) from a major health crisis. After a few months, however, he landed a new job and is now happily employed. Having a termination on his record is something that he avoided.
Here’s a plan if you get an out-of-the-blue disciplinary notice just after getting a great performance review, especially after you’ve been told there are to be layoffs and/or you are asked to issue disciplinary notices that are unwarranted:
- Recognize the handwriting on the wall
- Accept your fate
- Don't get angry
- Approach your boss
- Negotiate a package
- Get recommendations testifying to your stellar performance
- Walk away