"You should wait until they fire you rather than quitting," a friend offered as advice as I sensed the end of my employment was coming. "If you wait, they'll give you a severance package, but if you quit, you get nothing."
He was absolutely right. The dollars and cents of waiting for the ax to fall versus moving first, were undeniable. It was months worth of pay, not to mention continuation of health insurance coverage (pre-obamacare) versus what? Basically nothing.
Only the other side of the equation did hold value -- all of it emotional. I knew it then, but I didn't appreciate how valuable that would be until later.
In this case I went with option "A." I went for the money, never even seriously considering the alternative.
In my defense, it was a time of extraordinary uncertainty. The credit markets had recently nearly collapsed. The stock market's value had dropped in half. My ownership of company stock (where, at the board of director's insistence, 90% of my wealth was held) was a third of what it had been only a year ago. Getting another job was uncertain, and at my level would have almost certainly forced a relocation. At that moment my wife and I were nearing the completion of a long adoption process -- relocating would not have been good, if even possible. And maybe a miracle would occur. Maybe I would be able to turn things around. There seemed to be plenty of good reasons to wait.
So I opted for the cash.
There was damage as a result. Plenty of it. I jumped at the first job that came my way -- a major reduction in responsibility and one the ultimately proved to be incompatible with my management style. My confidence dropped through the floor. I struggled to grapple with all the negative implications about my abilities. I'd been a high flyer who seemed to succeed at everything I tried. Now I was a loser. I was angry, feeling like I'd been unjustly punished for things mostly outside of my control. "Their" expectations were unreasonable, impossible even.
Eventually, I came around to a more balanced view of what happened. I'd made mistakes, and the company had been decidedly unhelpful or forgiving in response. I'd been fired, and had to face up to the facts.
Had I quit, I could have held onto my own, narrow view of the problems and how I fit into them (one where I did everything right, and was unjustly persecuted). In the long haul, taking the money and coming to grips with a new reality might have been a better long term outcome.
But it sure hurt. For several years.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, make sure you think through all the implications of waiting to be "let go." In my case, it rocked my life and later sent me off in a completely different direction. Don't underestimate the impact of being fired on your drive, confidence, or ability to lead others. 23.5
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If you are intrigued by the ideas presented in my blog posts, check out some of my other writing. Novels: LEVERAGE, INCENTIVIZE, DELIVERABLES and HEIR APPARENT. Coming soon -- PURSUING OTHER OPPORTUNITIES
To the right is the cover for DELIVERABLES. This novel features a senior manager approached by government officials to spy on his employer, complete with a story about how a "deal" they are negotiating might put critical technical secrets into the hands of enemies of the United States. Of course, everything is not exactly as it seems....
My novels are based on extensions of 27 years of personal experiences as a senior manager in public corporations.
Non-Fiction: NAVIGATING CORPORATE POLITICS