Gratitude

At this time of year, our thoughts turn to gratitude or thanks for all we have. Let’s face it, our worst day is still 100 percent better than the days of people in a large part of the world. We have roofs over our heads, are warm and dry, and are looking forward to a big meal with family and friends on Thursday. Those reading this obviously have some sort of technology and access to the internet, so that puts you even farther ahead!

I want to take a few minutes to talk about gratitude for your job. If you are employed, you should be grateful. If you have a job you love, you should be even more grateful. There is nothing better than looking forward to going to work every morning, feeling that you are fulfilled, happy and making a difference. If you have a great team and fabulous coworkers, even better. You must be truly thankful if you have great people to work with at a job you love.

What about those who don’t have a job? A large part of my business is career transition and outplacement, helping those who have been separated from their jobs find new ones. It’s hard to be grateful when you have been laid off or fired, especially this time of year. The excitement and joy of the holidays is difficult to enjoy when you worry about making a living. However, there is a silver lining and a few things to remember.

  • This won’t last forever. You WILL get another job. Maybe not today, or tomorrow, but it will happen. If you have an outplacement coach, it will probably happen sooner. You will survive, you have support, and be grateful that this too shall pass. Look forward.
  • You are very likely to get an even better job. Take a hard look at what you have now left behind. Was it perfect? Probably not. You have been given the gift of finding something better; a place that more closely matches your ideal. Be grateful for that gift.
  • You will find your best friends and supporters. The people who truly care about you will do everything in their power to help you. Reach out and ask them. Accept their help with gratitude.

It’s very easy to forget how fortunate you are, even if you don’t have a job right this minute. If you have a warm place to live, food on the table, and someone who cares, you are one of the lucky ones. Be thankful for today, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.

Outplacement for the Older Worker

As companies ponder downsizing, they usually look toward reducing labor costs. This means the biggest salaries, which encompass the most experienced, longest tenured employees. You may believe someone with years of relevant experience and great job history would be able to easily find another job. That is rarely the case. In reality, experienced 50-plus workers have vastly more trouble finding a new place than a relatively inexperienced 30-year-old.

Hard business decisions must be made at times, and the reality is that salaries and benefits are the largest expense for any company. When downsizing must occur, that’s where it happens. Logically, the biggest expenses – the highest-paid employees – are first.

We always advocate for giving any separated employee outplacement and career transition assistance. In the case of older employees, career counseling and job search support is crucial for several reasons.

  • Like it or not, ageism is rampant in the business world. Companies use various methods such as graduation dates, years of tenure, or job history to piece together information to estimate an applicant’s age. They assume a person will require more money, a higher title, or will be unsatisfied in a lesser position than previously held, even before discussing these issues in an interview. In fact, many older workers have “been there, done that” and will be very happy, loyal and productive in a position for which an HR screener may decide they are “overqualified” without a conversation.
  • The longer a separated worker is unemployed, the more it costs you, and an older worker could be unemployed for much longer as a result of the factors listed above. Unemployment insurance is a significant cost to any business, and the more being paid out, the higher your costs. In addition, if the separated employee decides to bring legal action against you, your legal costs plus settlement costs can be very high. Those who are provided support are much less likely to bring legal action against a former employer.
  • The emotional cost to an older worker can be severe. This is a person who worked diligently and successfully for many years, had the respect of coworkers and supervisors, and is now separated from what may have been a very large part of his or her identity. He or she has been out of the job market for some time, and will need some kind of support to re-enter.

Many companies offering outplacement will offer only very limited support, such as resume review or coaching for 30 days. Any older, separated employee can tell you that is not enough! A job search for a person over 50 will take longer than 30 days, and that person will need encouragement and coaching during that time.

When making the tough decision to separate your older worker, remember the additional challenges he or she will face and offer an appropriate career transition program. It’s the right thing to do, for the worker and for your business.

Travel or Trouble? Career transition goes both ways

People leave jobs. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not. A career transition is always an emotional roller coaster, even if it is the employee’s idea to leave, but more so when the separation is involuntary or when the voluntary separation is a result of job dissatisfaction of some kind.

What happens during that emotional upheaval? An employee leaving voluntarily has some reason for doing so, and will likely share that information with friends, family and coworkers during the transition. A few of those reasons…

  • Better hours – spin that into “I had to work too many hours, I didn’t have flexibility, I couldn’t take off for my child’s school program, …”;
  • More money – the story is your company didn’t pay enough to meet needs;
  • More supportive environment – turns into “I never felt valued, my boss didn’t listen to me…”

Whatever the reasons they have, even employees leaving under their own power can cause bad PR among their friends and acquaintances. If that is the case, imagine what damage a fired or laid-off employee could do! Given the digital world we live in today, the bad news can spread from friends to acquaintances to friends of friends and beyond in the blink of an eye. Stories will be embellished, small incidents magnified, misunderstandings become truth. Trouble!

Be ready when you need to separate an employee with a good career transition coach or outplacement provider. An objective third party can help ease the transition pain and refocus the negative energy into something positive that will help them travel forward into a new position that will hopefully be THE job they were meant to have. Finding THE job will help fade the memories of the past and open new and exciting highways to the future, limiting the trouble that could be caused during the search.

The bottom line is that separated employees who have career coaching or outplacement assistance move on to the next opportunity faster and more positively than those who don’t. If you must separate from an employee, do it in the best way possible – help them travel, not trouble!

 

Taking the curve successfully; a new career awaits

You have just been told there will be layoffs, big ones. Probably you. That understandably strikes terror in most people’s hearts, and you start thinking about where you can get another job like the one you have now. After all, you have a set of skills that perfectly fits what you have been doing, so looking for something just like it seems logical.

Is that approach truly logical, or even realistic? If people with a strictly defined set of skills and abilities just like yours are being laid off, how likely is it that other jobs just like yours are out there waiting? Maybe it’s a great time to really examine your work, job satisfaction, and options for the future.

Many, many people get a job early on in their careers that isn’t exactly what they wanted, but it’s close enough and it works out fine. Another opportunity comes up, and it is even a bit farther from what you really wanted in the beginning, but it’s a next step up from the job you took, so it works out, too. A couple more promotions or job changes like that, and you can look back and see how far off course you have gotten from where you originally intended. Maybe that’s ok, too, for a while. Then, through no fault of your own, the layoff happens. Where do you go from here?

It isn’t unrealistic to go back to your original goal, get back on the road you started out to travel. I live near an old stretch of Route 66, the original “Mother Road” running from Chicago to Los Angeles. The old road has been replaced in places by a new road that runs pretty much parallel to the old original road. There is one spot, though, where the new road veers away from the old, in a place marked with a sign, “Dead Man’s Curve.” When the new road was built, it was moved so that the old and obviously dangerous curve was bypassed, and the road straightened out. That curve is not unlike the curves we all take in our career path. Losing a job may mean you have the opportunity to straighten out the curves and get back on the road you began.

Straightening out that road may take some research, extra work, education, and determination. If the original career goal you had is still something you want and are willing to work for, now can be an ideal time. To make those first steps easier, an experienced career coach can help you decide what you really want and the best way to get there. Especially if you have been in the same job for a while, you will need help to find out what the next steps should be, how to prepare, and how to land in the place you want to be.

Don’t go alone around that curve, get the help you need from a coach to navigate it successfully into a new, better career.

A Journey of 1000 Miles

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. So said the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu in the fourth century BC. Wise words then, and they still apply today for anyone embarking on a new venture.
In my practice, I talk with a lot of people in career transition. Some of those transitions are by choice, but most are not. It’s an unfortunate fact of modern life that as business needs change, so do the staffing needs. The days of working for the same company your entire life have come to an end, and most of us will go through some changes during our career. That means we will all start new journeys, perhaps several times.
Taking that first step on a new journey can be very hard. What step to take? What direction? How fast do I have to move? If you are in that position for the first time, it’s really hard to take that first step. Even if its not the first time, it’s still really hard to start! Every journey looks different, starts in a different place and has a different destination – which may not be at all obvious as you begin.
It helps to have a guide; a Sherpa, so to speak. You need someone who will not judge, criticize, or let you dwell in the past. A career counselor or an outplacement provider can help you take that first step with purpose and direction, and start you on that journey to the next destination. They can help you make sure your goal is the best possible fit for you, and provide encouragement along the way.
If you need help with that first step, don’t wait to find your Sherpa to help you start that journey in a positive, purposeful way.

Helping Them IN – Better career transition

In the world of career transition, practitioners often focus heavily on the “out” in outplacement. I even find myself locked in that mindset from time to time – helping people transition “out” of a job – because leaving a job is where I connect with someone in a career transition.

The “out” may not be the best way to think about a career transition. Job loss may be painful and feel like the end, like it really is “out” with no way back in. I think we should look at it from a different perspective; a career transition is a beginning of something else, we just need to discover what that is. Career transition can be “in” as well as “out.”

All the wisdom of the world can be found in the words of Mr. Rogers, even for those in transition.

“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.” ― Fred Rogers

Isn’t that a much better way to think of what happened? You aren’t going out a door with nothing in sight. You are opening a door and seeing a wide horizon and vast possibility.
I would be the first to tell you that is easy to say and harder to really believe. Losing a job, when the termination was out of your control and had nothing to do with your performance, loyalty, or skills, can be very hard. Right here in the city in which I live, a major employer is reducing its workforce dramatically and the reductions have little to do with job performance, only numbers. Many, many people have found themselves without work after years with the company.

With a good career coach or outplacement counselor, a person who finds himself in this position can shorten the time living with shock, disbelief and sadness and grab that door handle to open a new world of possibilities. He or she may need coaching and support, but look what lies ahead! This could be the opportunity to make a complete career change, to try something never attempted, to follow a long-held dream.

My goal for my outplacement clients is not to provide “out” placement, but turn that into “in” placement – a new and better beginning for their careers.

The Importance of Work

As I get ready to celebrate Labor Day this weekend, I was thinking about this holiday. My natural curiosity led me to look up the history, which began with a workers’ march in New York City in 1882. Congress made Labor Day an official holiday 12 years later in 1894, spurred by an American Railroad Union strike in June of that year.

Why do we still celebrate today? I believe it is because work is important. Aside from the last barbecues and outings of summer, the holiday celebrates the value of work and those who perform it. Labor Day gives working people the opportunity to pause and reflect on the value of what they do.

That value is not only measured in what hard work means to businesses and to our country, but to each person. Each of us must define our individual worth in some measure, and for many, that measure is the work we perform. Promotions and salary increases are tangible measures of our work and our worth to our employer and to ourselves. Work defines us, provides a source of self-esteem, and gives a sense of pride in job well done.

What happens when a person no longer has a job to define his or her value? Losing a job is devastating, not only financially but in terms of a worker’s self-esteem and self-value. Job loss can be especially hard if it is a result of circumstances beyond the worker’s control, having nothing to do with performance. A worker who is used to being rewarded for a good job, performing his or her best, and gaining self-respect as a byproduct will need some kind of support to maintain drive and the will to move forward.

This is where a career counselor or outplacement provider can help. Support to move forward to a new opportunity can maintain a person’s sense of worth and value, which in turn will make it easier to find a new position quickly. Employers, if you need to lay off workers, please consider this as the best thing you can provide to help them transition to a new place.

Work is important. I hope everyone celebrates the opportunity to work this Labor Day!

Still the Waters

You decide to let an employee go. For whatever reason, it’s a difficult decision and one that affects someone’s life. You want to do the right things for the right reasons for both your business and for the employee; reduce your unemployment costs, lessen the likelihood of legal action, help the employee get a new start.

Your decision may not have considered what’s going on with the remaining employees. They are watching, talking, and probably fearing they are next to go. The upheaval caused by separation has a profound effect on those left behind, and you need to do all you can to calm the situation and keep the waves from turning to a tsunami.

One of the easiest and best ways to do the right thing for the separated employee, as well as those who remain, is to provide outplacement support. Outplacement helps the separated employee get back on his feet and start taking positive steps forward to the next opportunity. Outplacement is proven to get people back to work faster, often in a better fitting position. It benefits your business by reducing the costs associated with separation. But it also assures the remaining employees that their friend is going to be ok, is getting the help he needs, and will be back to work as soon as possible. It shows that, while making the difficult decision to separate someone, you care enough to make sure everyone is supported when in need.

Don’t let your current employees worry about their friend, build fear, and imagine the worst. Show them you are doing the right thing and help your former employee land in a great place.

3 Things You Should Do To Terminate Humanely

Have you ever thought about the impact of the words we use when we “let someone go,” “terminate” or “fire” someone? The images these words conjure up aren’t pretty. Worse, many times, these words reflect how the employee actually feels when they are told that they are being “separated” from their organization.
There are some simple steps you can follow to make this process easier on all involved.
Start With The Right Mindset
When most people think “termination,” they only see the negative aspects of the process. When you start with a less than positive outlook, it is hard to relax enough to perform the work to be done in an optimal manner.
Start by recognizing that you aren’t ending a career, you are promoting one. The person leaving your organization is being freed to find something that better fits their skills, interests and personality. They get to make a fresh start. In the long term, they will be happier and so will you.
I’ve been in human resources now for over 30 years and, during all that time, I’ve only seen a handful of people, out of many thousands, who didn’t end up with as good or better job than the one they lost.
Fire Them; Don’t Fire Them Up
If your supervisors aren’t trained and experienced in how to properly terminate an employee, they can create more upset than necessary. Angry employees sometimes seek legal assistance, attempt to negatively impact your relationships with customers, disrupt remaining staff, and create negative perceptions with others. Many a discrimination charge has been spawned by a less than optimally skilled supervisor trying to power through a termination.
Make sure your supervisors are fully trained in the process. Bring us in to help train your staff on key techniques and plan the termination meeting. The little additional work required to do these things will mean less stress for all involved.
Help Them Take The First Step
When a person loses their job, they often feel fearful. How will they pay their bills? How will they find a new job?
The term “corporate responsibility” is frequently bandied about today. If you want your organization to make a difference, provide outplacement assistance (career transition) to the exiting employee. It is both good business and good karma to provide these services.
The sooner the exiting employees gets back to work, the less unemployment you pay, the less likely you will be sued or that the exiting employee will attempt to hurt you in some other way.
Many firms have never heard of this type of program but, once introduced, they never stop using outplacement services.
Terminations are part of business. Do them well and you will be rewarded with less overall cost and bad feelings.

Start today to improve your organization! I’ll be here to encourage and help you in any way I can. Call, write or let’s get together to make this year the best year ever!

Helping Employees “Out”

We make two critical mistakes in America when it comes to our underperforming or otherwise problematic employees: we either fire them too quickly or not quickly enough. Both outcomes can a have extremely detrimental impact on business performance.
Firing someone is unpleasant and risky. There are legal, customer relation, reputation, remaining co-workers, violence in the workplace and many more opportunities for concern which come into play when you let an employee go. Additionally, the replacement may not perform any better than the person you are terminating.
Smart companies aren’t “parts changers” – they find good people, train and supervise them well. They focus on making their current employees better and don’t seek out the elusive “new answer” which often turns into their “new problem.”
Sometimes, however, helping someone “out” is exactly the right thing to do. I’ve seen terminations make immediate and huge differences in remaining employee morale, turnover, customer service and other factors. Often, due to the concerns mentioned above, chronic underperforming or pernicious employees are allowed to stay much too long.
I have two suggestions to make the termination process less risky and unpleasant.
Fire Well
Get some support when you are considering firing someone. Bring in someone from outside your organization to train and support your supervisors before the termination occurs. A little training and coaching goes a very long way to improve the outcome of these, sometimes very challenging, meetings.
Provide Outplacement Assistance
When you fire someone, their first thought is often “how am I going to … feed myself, pay the rent, etc.” This fear often causes them to do things they might not otherwise do (legal, co-worker morale and customer impacts are the most typical). The terminating employee’s actions distract you from your business and can cost you time, money, reputation and happiness.
Outplacement, using an outside firm to guide the employee in their job search activities, often saves you many times what it costs and it is the humane thing to do. You often hear the phrase “corporate responsibility” bandied about. Here is an opportunity to step up and take responsibility by truly helping folks when they need help.
Know when to fire and how to fire. If you need help making the decision or doing the termination, it is often best to bring an experienced, objective outsider into the loop – to ensure things go easier for all parties. Help employees “out” by providing outplacement assistance. It is inexpensive and the right thing to do.
Start today to improve your organization! I’ll be here to encourage and help you in any way I can. Call, write or let’s get together to make this year the best year ever!