QUESTIONS THAT WORK WHEN:
You Are Fired or Laid Off
No question is so difficult to answer as that which the answer is obvious.
GEORGE BERNARD SHAW
What's it like to get the ax? When downsizing entered the national vocabulary, Maynard Brusman, a San Francisco–based corporate psychologist, had the walking wounded coming to his office. His first task was to let people know “the whole world of work has changed, there is no longer that psychological contract, no one owes you a job for life any more.” While many realize this at one level, it doesn't change their feelings when they are dismissed, feelings so intense that Brusman had people coming in, “feeling that there is a death”1 when a job went away. Dr. Brusman's second concern? Those left behind after a downsizing were being scarred by anxiety so severe that managers needed to rebuild employee morale and dedication. Positive questioning attitudes and cultures can help to do both.
Mergers, acquisitions, personality conflicts, or outgrowing a job can lead to your needing to move to another position. Middle managers are not immune, since they are among the most expensive employees a company has (don't think top management is about to cut itself). The best definition of job security is the ability to find another job right away, which means people today are always looking for work. If nothing else, having an outward vision of what they can do and their worth helps protect employees from a state of shock if their employment situation suddenly changes. Asking questions is the first skill you need; it will lead to many other skills needed to keep you employed.
During the depths of one recession, I interviewed many middle and senior managers who had never thought they would be fired. One had worked for