The one inescapable fact of modern day corporate life, in the best of economies and finest markets, and most certainly at the worst economic times is the frailty of our employment.
Employment is a contract between two entities - the individual worker and the employer. This contract is entered into willingly and usually with a fair degree of optimism and enthusiasm.
Then, and equally usually, the individual or the employer may choose to move on. When the individual moves on, it is called a resignation and calls for its moments of celebration on part of the individual. The individual chooses an alternative employer and enters into the same dance of optimism and enthusiasm, filled with hope and positivity for the future.
When the employer calls it quits, we don’t feel any of this positivity or hope. This, then, is the much dreaded PINK SLIP. It is a reality of life. We have to be ready to face the pink slip as it happens, when and if it happens.
Being pink slipped in the context of this writing is about being asked to quit or less politely, being fired from work. It is about a looming period of uncertainty or unemployment or both.
This is usually in context of performance or economics of the situation or even politics of the place. If you have been sacked over a policy matter or an ethics issue or a disciplinary matter, then coping strategies are different.
The first aspect of coping with the firing is not to take it personally.
How then, should you react to being sacked? It certainly feels very brutally personal.
Coping starts with understanding the impersonal nature of the beast. It could have happened either for your performance or for economic compulsions or a change in business plans.
There is no other factor here. It’s like an accident that could have happened while commuting.
Every time the question ‘why me’ surfaces from within, it must be reflected upon (and not become a painful quest to question the impersonal).
This inner reflection is the second coping strategy. It consists of three steps. Ask the question, answer the question and define the change within, you need to work on.
Take a few hours off from your family, friends, colleagues and the internal pressure. Sit calmly by yourself, definitely with the old fashioned pen and a notepad. This is your time out. It is the only thing that will serve you. Keep something to sip on close at hand.
Examine the ‘why me’ in every facet. WRITE down the reasons that could have led to you being sacked. List clinically where you may have possibly gone wrong. Do you see something that you can do differently moving ahead?
If you had some difficulty with this step, then enroll a buddy, someone whom you trust, to help you and give you feedback. It can even be the same Human Resources department that pink slipped you or the line manager who may have recommended your name. But it has to be someone who knows your professional self and can clue you in to what needs to be changed. It may even be a feedback about a skill requirement or an approach that needs to be changed.
And now create a new list—what you need to do differently in your next job. Some shift in your attitude? A new skill that you need to acquire? Was it complacence at your workplace that you need to work on? There is every possibility of the next job (even in the grimmest of markets, some jobs are to be had and the India story is not the grimmest by any means).
To be concluded.
The author is a senior human resources leader and is presently
the chief people officer at Zee Media Corporation