Last fall (2007) there was a CEO succession at the company where my husband and I work. In November, my husband, who was in upper management, was the first to be laid off. In a nanosecond, not only does your work network crumble but so does your social network. What do you say or do for your co-worker and friend who has been fired or laid off?
Whenever there is a change in management, employees become afraid. Your job feels very insecure; you become defensive, protection your position. With a change in management, there is usually some form of change coming down the pike. When a company brings on a new CEO, it may well mean changes in top management. For example, Jach Welch became president of GE (General Electric) when GE was in trouble. He was know by the nickname “Neutron Jack” because many folks lost their jobs. However, he turned the company around to be viable in today’s world, thereby saving and creating jobs. That is great for those who stay or get hired, and not so great for the ones who lose their jobs. That scenario happens every day in companies all over the county. What do you say or do for your co-worker who has been laid off.
1) When you see your friend, say “Hi, I am sorry to hear about your job.” Loosing a job isn’t leprosy. I can’t tell you the number of our friends that wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t know how to talk to us. They would avoid us by looking at their shoes and walk away. Just say “Hi!” The friendship and support is needed and much appreciated. Just keep in contact.
2) Do activities with your friend. Go to lunch or dinner with them, play golf or cards or go to a show. You don’t have to fix the situation, just be a friend.
3) Listen. Your friend will need to sort things out and make plans for the future. It is easier and nicer to have a friend walk the path with you.
4) Encourage your friend through the process of the job search, It can be very lonely and frustrating to look for a new position. It is very important to be positive during this time. You are much more likely to land a new job with a positive , upbeat attitude. Call your friend, frequently to see how he/she is doing and how the process is going.
5) Depending upon the circumstances, the friend may have to move. Stay in contact with your friend during the process. It there are ways to help, do so if your are able. Having your friend over for a simple dinner is a wonderful gesture.
6) There will be a whole host of emotions that everyone will go through during this process. You don’t have to get stuck in “life sucks” conversations. Simply recognizing the emotions of anger, disappointment, sadness, and grief may be all that you need to do. Then you can get on to what is right and good in the new opportunities that present.
7) Be a “Friend.” Be present and available to the extent you can. You never know when this person or another friend will need to be there for your. “Pay it forward,” if you will.
Getting fired or laid-off is not the worst thing in the world. Learn from the situation and grow. It is a doorway to new opportunities that await you and your friend. Celebrate the friendship you have had. You are both better for having known each other.