HBR: You’re Not Powerless in the Face of a Layoff


This, AAPN, my 26th year here, is my 3rd career. I got 'shot' out of the first two. It happens. Back them, I could have used the following advice just as you, today, can use our network. Don't discount it – at our first AAPN Regional Conference in Dallas in 2017, we expected maybe 3 dozen people. We got 77. Two of them left with new jobs, THIS in a half day networking event!

We're here to network and through it, to help. We took one small step today by adding an AAPN Job Board to our home page. See if you can find it, and when you do, use it…Mike

You’re Not Powerless in the Face of a Layoff
HBR: May 07, 2020

U.S. unemployment is now the worst it’s been since the Great Depression, and globally, millions more have lost jobs — or worry they’re next in line to be cut in the face of a lingering downturn.

As leadership consultants, we’ve worked with senior and mid-level executives as they faced layoffs — themselves and their teams — during recessionary periods. (One of us, Dorie, has personal experience dealing with a layoff amidst the 9/11 economic crisis.) It’s never easy, but if you’re facing job loss, here are five strategies that should help you handle it gracefully so you can maintain your connections and reputation, and emerge stronger in the end.

Keep negative emotions in check.
It’s common to experience a range of emotions in the wake of a layoff — you may go through the full Kubler-Ross gamut of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It’s understandable to feel and express all of these — in private. But publicly, it’s especially important to guard against displays of anger, which can, if unchecked, damage your long-term professional reputation. We all know that shooting off an irate email or social media post isn’t helpful (though that knowledge doesn’t stop some from indulging).

But it’s also important to restrain the urge to share your grievances with colleagues, whether they’ve been laid off, as well, or remain in the organization. Initially, it feels good to get comfort and support. But complaining not only reinforces an unhelpful spiral of negative thinking. It also raises the likelihood that others, including those who don’t know you personally, will hear about you for the first time in the context of your complaints.

At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll also want to avoid quiet passive aggressiveness. One senior executive we know reacted badly to his layoff, vanishing without a trace. He failed to thank his assistant and team, and left colleagues to pick up projects and client relationships without a handover. Now, it’s the only thing people talk about when they refer to him, seemingly forgetting his considerable achievements over a 10-year period. Instead, in the company of your colleagues, try to focus on the positive elements of your time at the company and your plans moving forward.

Identify the people in your professional (AAPN)network whom you want to tell personally.
These should be your most important contacts, such as mentors, former bosses, friends, customers, or suppliers — anyone with whom you have a close bond. Express your appreciation for the experiences you’ve enjoyed together, and the support they’ve given you — and if they’ve also been laid off recently, you can offer to make introductions or lend a sympathetic ear, as appropriate. Read More