Please mumble an “uh-huh” under your breath if you can relate to any of these:
- You’ve found yourself at the bottom three of the company’s sales performance report for the past six months, despite the blood, sweat and tears of overtime that you put in.
- You’ve just experienced an inadvertent faux pas at your job with no chance of rectification.
- Rumor of your position being eliminated is circulating around the water cooler dispenser.
- You’ve just lost that loving feeling for your job but you don’t have the guts to quit or don’t have any employment options anyway.
- You have a horrible boss who is jealous and feels threatened by your popularity at the office.
Involuntary termination is one of the greatest forms of rejection and is such a blow to one’s ego, even if you disliked your job in the first place. Whatever situation it is, getting fired or laid off is likely looming around the corner. An indicator would be your own intuition. Be aware of that gnawing feeling or the fleeting thought that you may lose your job. Take action as soon as you have that realization. Below is a checklist of 10 important things you should handle when you suspect this impending doom. When life gives you lemons, be sure to have some sugar handy for that lemonade.
It is recommended that Tips #1-4 below be conducted within the first two hours of your workday on a daily basis until you’re caught up. Remember to continue with the upkeep.
1) Open All Your Mail (15 minutes). If you’re confronted with a possible termination due to the first, second or third bullet points above, chances are you are also disorganized. Kudos to you if you are not. A stack of unopened mail is definitely a thorn in anybody’s side. Hopefully, you have been making it a daily routine to at least look at the envelope to ensure it is not urgent correspondence. Throw away the junk and create two piles for the rest: Important and Unimportant. Set a timer for your task (15 minutes for this task), and when the alarm goes off, stop and drop it. Continue the next day.
2) Clean Up Your Email (15 minutes). Follow the concept in #1 above for your email Inbox as well as your Sent folders: Archive Unimportant and create new tasks for Important (which will be handled in #3, step 2 below). In terms of Junk Email, delete them permanently. Use your judgment in order to decipher what “junk” is. Some examples are: chain emails that threaten damnation if not forwarded, other Spam email or any email that would shine a bad light on you or your colleagues. Hopefully you are not the only one who bad-mouths other coworkers or clients via email. If so, you’re on your own because your company’s Tech Team will probably find out about it, especially if you’re under suspicion for defamation of someone’s character. Make it a healthy habit of being nice. Timer for 15 minutes, Buzzer rings, Stop and Drop the task and Continue the next day. From now on this will be known as “TBSDC.”
3) Tackle Your Unfiled Paperwork (30 minutes). This is a two-part step:
Step 1 (20 minutes): Sort and Stack. Gather every piece of paper and document you can find in your office (do not forget your file cabinets and desk). Now remember that “Important” and “Unimportant” piles of mail that you’ve just opened? Using those two stacks as a starting point, follow the concept in #1 above (Junk is trash, Important is a new task and Unimportant is filed away). TBSDC.
Step 2 (10 minutes): Create Tasks for your “Important” pile. List these down on paper and keep in a manila folder with the label “Pending,” along with your Important stack. Also, include your Important Email Tasks in this pending folder. This has be in plain sight at all times so that you can take care of it daily, so keep it on your desk or somewhere easily accessible. TBSDC.
4) Clean Out Your Computer Desktop Files (15 minutes). By now, you’re an expert in purging Junk, and sorting the Important and Unimportant. It is vital to keep your computer free of junk and personal things in the first place, but we all get lazy, and we all tend to neglect the fact that our computer is not really ours but our company’s. Organize in this order: your Desktop then your “My Documents” folder, and last your folder located in the company’s department network.
Purge, purge and purge anything that is unimportant, obsolete or outdated. Save personal documents onto a jump drive (i.e., Photos). Your client folder within your department network should be alphabetized and complete with your notes, and be sure your assistant (if you have one) has access and can easily navigate through.
You may think, hey, if you’re gonna get fired or laid off, you might as well confiscate that client folder to your jump drive…it may come in handy. Stop right there. You want to leave with self-respect, not leave with a potential lawsuit! If you must be crooked, please search online another article.
Along with the first four tips, the following should be deemed as daily tasks and implemented as soon as possible if you are not already including it in your regular routine.
5) Tighten Up Calendar Appointments. Be sure that your assistant has access to your calendar. Your appointments should also contain details like your client’s contact number, a basic summary of why you are meeting and perhaps the person who referred that client to you. These details are so important. By having specifics, you are helping the next person who handles your pending items to take care of your clients seamlessly.
6) Start Taking Your Personal Items Home. You don’t have to box everything up as if you were terminated today, do this slowly! Bring home your CD player one day, your Tupperware of old food from your fridge the next and your framed family photos the day after that. Doing this frees you from scrambling to gather — or worse — forget some of your personal stuff on D-Day. Leave one picture of your family on your desk as moral support and encouragement through this trying time.
7) Prepare Your Clients. This does not mean to blatantly tell your clients that you’re getting fired or laid off. Don’t scare them away or shake their trust in you. But you will have loving and dedicated clients exclaim, “Oh, please don’t ever leave…” Prepare them by hinting things like, “Oh, we are never guaranteed tomorrow,” or “God can take me today,” or “I have no plans to leave.” That last line is absolutely true. After all, it’s not your plan to be terminated. Hang on to your job to the very end!
8) Scout Around for New Employment. It does not hurt to turn in an application for potential jobs, though it may be tricky if it’s another position within your current company. But keep your options open. Job application processes can take a while before you’re contacted for an interview. If the timing is right, you may have a few employment opportunities lined up by the time you’re let go.
9) Be the Best Employee and Coworker. During the last month, weeks or days before termination, make sure you are a stellar employee. Drive those sales numbers up, be early for client appointments, attend all conference calls, always turn in reports on time, make sure you answer your telephone if you’re at your desk, as well as return messages promptly, bring doughnuts to your department every week or ask your fellow peers to join you for lunch. Since depression can set in easily because of your situation, your tendency is to avoid anything to do with work. Force yourself to do the opposite! This will guarantee that your absence at the company will be a huge void.
10) Miscellaneous Stuff. Keep a large, empty Ziploc in your desk drawer for things like your laptop and cellphone chargers, your name badge and electronic keys. This is where you will store them at the end of every workday. Also, keep your stash of business cards and other personalized flyers in the same area. Inconspicuously keep a list of all your User ID and passwords on a piece of paper in your desk. Your boss will ask for these.
Although you will have those suspicions of an imminent termination, the actual deed will likely occur as an ambush by your boss and HR lady, catching you off guard, probably on a Friday. Therefore, after getting served the COBRA papers from them, be sure to graciously thank them for the opportunity of serving the company, and let it be known that it was a great learning experience. Then forward your incoming calls to your assistant, hand over that pending folder and list (hopefully you’ve taken care of most of them), along with the Ziploc of cords, name badge, keys and passwords, and finally, give your boss a handshake. All that’s left is to gather your jacket, briefcase, purse/wallet, that one remaining picture frame and best of all — your dignity.