Monday Panic Call: The Layoff

By Scot Herrick | Cube Rules Commentary

Jun 09

You know the panic call when you receive it. The one where the inconceivable is about to happen to the person on the other end of the phone: the layoff.

On the call they are breathless in the gossip and studying the smallest statements to see when the layoff will happen to them (tomorrow? Next week? No, surely by Friday!).

The difference this time? They are scared.

This time, the discussion isn’t a theoretical about some other group, some other department, and some other time. Instead, it is about them. Their group, their department, their position. Them.

On the phone, it is now a different discussion since the end of the job is near.

Now the conversation, once the person settles down, is about survival. Not survival in the sense of staying at their job. No, this is survival about when forced to leave.

This is where the panic sets in.

When ultimately faced with certainty about most anything, we quickly evaluate everything we have done to that point to make the certainty right. Or, in a layoff, how we have made the certainty of layoff an opportunity to move on to something better in our life.

All the preparations that you have done to protect, strengthen and improve your career come to crystallization the second you are told of your layoff.

If you have worked hard to get your finances right, developed a strong network of friends and family, worked on your job skills and performed well, you’ll be fine. A layoff is tough, but with preparation, it will help you find something better.

If you haven’t prepared well, you will panic and hear yourself making that Monday morning call to someone you love.

Are you prepared for a layoff?

  • Deanna McNeil says:

    This is indeed scary stuff, the sort of thing I try not to dwell on too much. Being prepared is the best thing but still, I don’t think it erases the fear that you initially experience.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      @Deanna McNeil
      It does not erase the fear. When you still go through the moment of the layoff, your world changes and there is always fear when that happens.

      However, while the stages of grief still need to be gone through, having prepared for the layoff gets you through the stages faster and knowing that you are OK. Still not earning an income two years later? That’s a different story.

      Thanks for the comment. I should have mentioned that the fear will still be there. Good insight.

  • Rick says:

    Nice topic Scot! I learned this lesson well when I was laid off a few years ago. First, I had some good signs it was coming about six weeks beforehand, so I started working on my resume and watching my finances. The networking came later, but it probably would have helped if I had begun that prior to the layoff as well. Still, there was a stage of grief after the layoff, and you can never eradicate the fear and uncertainty. But the sun eventually does come out again.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      I was surprised at the grief cycle. Being the Cubicle Warrior and fully prepared(!), I thought that the gig was simply over and I would move on. Nope. Instead, both Kate and I had to work through leaving.

      The bottom line is that any time you go through a life transition of any sort, it takes time to go through the grieving process before moving on. I was surprised by that, but shouldn’t have been. A good lesson to learn.

  • Rick says:

    @Scot Herrick – I, too, have to admit to being a bit surprised about the grief stage. I suppose that when you wake up every morning and you don’t have an office or cubicle to drive to – especially if you like or love your job, as I did – then the sense of loss is palpable. So, you try and do something that can erase at least some of the grief, such as networking, sending out a resume, or, well, jogging.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      Physical work is a GREAT antidote to a layoff for a knowledge worker. Whether it be going to the garden, working on the lawn, or exercise, physical work helps this process. It also gets you moving and moving right now is important. Much better than sitting on the couch wondering what will happen.

      Good point, Rick. Thanks for bringing it up.

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