Important Information

Thursday, May 21, 2009

So you think you are on the companies RIF list

Note: This is a follow-on post to Signs you may be on the next RIF list ...

Take the high-road and earn the support you need!

No matter which road you take, each will consume both time and energy. Joe chooses to take the high-road and here's why.

Your boss can support you -
If you think you are on the RIF list, ask your boss – “Is my job in jeopardy?” In most cases they are instructed by HR and legal to say nothing. Their are possible repercussions to both your boss and the company if pre-notification is given to some employees and not all. I have now been on both sides of the table and I can tell you that it is best for all if you provide employees information as soon as you can. A professional boss, one that you will continue to admire even if they have to do their job of laying off valued employees will say something to prep you – it may be something like this - “Our team will be impacted at the next RIF action and I am not sure if I will have a spot for you to land”.

That's not the news you want to here, but in fact it is the news you need and asked for.
At this time, you will be severally tempted to make knee jerk comments – Resist! Your boss just broke protocol, and provided you information you can action. Be professional, ask them for their help and support in the upcoming weeks. There will come a time, hopefully soon, when you are a candidate for a position and a recommendation from a former boss will be invaluable. New employers are naturally leery about people who have been laid off from other employers. Sometimes they assume that your former employer only lays off the poor performers. Telling them that you were a valued employee and restructuring dictated that your project, your role, your level was eliminated. Back that up with a recommendation by your former boss and you may have just differentiated yourself from the competition.
It is a lot to swallow at the time, but you need to understand that you need to start marketing yourself now ....
Your stakeholders can support you! While you are still on the payroll, complete your assigned tasks to a higher level than expected. Under promise and over deliver right up to notification day. Follow up with your stakeholders - make them ponder your value and efforts while supporting them in times of stress. When you get great feedback, ask them if they would provide a recommendation on Linkedin ( or be a reference should you need one in the near future. This is not some lame attempt to salvage your job by impressing your stakeholders – forget about it - the job will be gone. Remember – its all about marketing yourself.

Don't get caught up in – "The walking dead syndrome".
It is natural and very easy to commiserate with co-workers, complain about the boss, the company, your boss's boss, the economy and not earn one penny of the salary you will continue to be paid till your day of notification. Take the high road – tell your boss, that you will complete your assigned work with complete professionalism quality and pace through to notification day. Ask them if you can take training or get certified - something that will help you in your efforts to market yourself in your new career search. Also, your boss may be more agreeable to your request to began your job search using company resources and time.

Your clients can support you.
If you call on clients outside your company, they may ask you, “I hear your company may have a lay off – how do you feel about that?” Take the high-road, don't feed the rumor mill, don't bash your company or its leadership. Tell them you don't really know, but as long as you are supporting them they will get the quality and service they deserve. Ask them how they feel about that! When you get great feedback, ask them if they would provide a recommendation should you need one in the future.

That's the high-road - It about positive energy, marketing yourself and most of all personal integrity.
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Anonymous said...

Joe - Great counsel, you have to have a "cool head" and a long term perspective. This is the right thing to do, although first instincts will be to take the low road. Thanks for reminding us to take a deep breath and react with integrity that will serve us well down the road. - Dont burn those bridges!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Joe - I don't have the patience you had. My boss called me out of blue - job gone that day, no severance, no help, no offer to help not even a sorry. I got mad, burned all my bridges ....

Now two months later, I wish I had taken the high road. It would have helped me. I need a reference but can use my former employer - I realize now that I screwed my self.

So I congratulate you, and hope others take your advise.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
I read your blog with great interest. I too have been RIF'd a few weeks ago. I can't agree more than taking the high road.

May I add 2 other signs that you are about to be RIF'd?

Your Manager emails you a vague email that he wants you to send him/her an instant message on a Thursday or Friday but does not mention what it is about.

A few weeks before this vague email, your Manager wants make sure he has your updated records and requests for your Date of Hire, SSN, and or backup contacts for your projects.

Thanks for the blog.

Anonymous said...

Other warning signs include work no longer being assigned to you; given administrative tasks such as calling meetings, creating agendas, maintaining the team website.

One other thing: No matter how good a relationship you had with your boss and other managers, senior management may order that they give no recommedations, just the basic acknowledgement of your status and your salary. Determine if that is true in your situation so you won't be blindsided when a potential employer complains that he could not get a recommendation from your former boss.

Anonymous said...

I have experienced this first hand and agree with Joe's approach. Receiving this message kicks off the grieving process and the various stages including anger which pushes you toward saying and doing things you'd later regret. Thankfully, I took the "high road" which was the right approach for me. My boss gave me the latitude to begin my job search early while I stayed connected and supported the team objectives. When the time came to leave I was fortunate to have landed a new job with a new firm.