Guess who's getting fired?
Don't panic. You're not fired now and no future firings have been announced, and what do I know, anyway? But deep down in one of the hidden and vacant areas of your brain, the thought has surfaced.
Your head is headed for the chopping block.
It could have been a sly, sideways look from your manager that gave away the game, or the strange response of the IT person when you asked for a software upgrade.
"I don't think we need to upgrade you," the IT nerd responded. "It's not like you're going to be using that computer for much longer."
(Do you suppose the IT person said this because the company is about to surprise you with an expensive new computer? I think not.)
For what it's worth, you should know that you are not the only person seeing a layoff in their future. Or so I learned in a scary article on the subject by Whitson Gordon in The New York Times.
"What to Do When You Think You're About to Get Fired" is the title of this horror story. If you think you already know all the clues that lead to a final and fatal visit to HR, Gordon provides a plethora of job-ending predictors you might not have noticed. Yet.
Fortunately, he also provides advice about what to do while waiting for the ax to fall.
"Get direct feedback" is the recommendation for those cockeyed optimists who still cling to the idea that they're being paranoid when it comes to their employment mortality.
"Come up with a go-to question you ask with some frequency," Gordon suggests. This will "put your manager on the spot." My suggestion for a question is simple: "Are you going to fire me?" As for frequency, I would think seven or eight times a day should be sufficient.
If your manager's response is not straightforward, Gordon continues, "you'll have to read between the lines." This should be easy. If your manager blinks or coughs or — heaven forbid — smiles, you can be sure that your goose is cooked. Ditto, your career.
Workplace expert Alison Green points out that if you are fired, then "you'll be asked to leave right away." One critical aspect of getting the bum's rush is that while you may be able to pack up personal items, like the voodoo doll you made of your manager, you will be locked out of your computer.
If you had valuable information on your computer, like compromising photos of the CFO in their Princess Celestia costume, or a statement from the CEO's Cayman Island Christmas club account, a lockout could mean trouble. Of course, the true tragedy of being denied access to your work computer is that you won't be able to finish "Red Redemption 2" after putting in 3,000 hours of play since you were hired.
If you do determine that a firing is in the offing, there are certain tasks to put on your to-do list.
Put aside money to get you through the time when you won't be getting a paycheck — $500,00 or $600,000 should do it. You should also take care of your health needs before your company insurance goes bye-bye. This is the perfect time to get that heart transplant you've been wanting. Ask your manager to donate their heart. They certainly don't use it.
If you do receive the call of doom from HR, and all your weeping and begging doesn't change their minds, you want to "agree on a story about why you left." You may have to negotiate, since you want the company to say that you were too talented and worked too hard, while they will want to point out that in the company's workflow pipeline you are a useless, worthless, clueless clog.
Green also advises that you don't wait until you are fired to start your job search. Instead, "as soon as you start being worried, start the job search." Since you started being worried the day you were hired, your Rolodex should be full of companies to contact. If no one wants to scoop you up, call your mother. She thinks you're terrific.
Finally, you are warned to keep what's left of your mind firmly focused on the future.
As author Kim Scott says, "The road to insanity in these situations is obsessing about injustice."
This may be true, but you don't have worry about it.
You've been down that road long, long ago.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at [email protected] To find out more about Bob Goldman, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at creators.com.