Disruption has come to management in a big way. More senior and middle managers are resigning or being fired than ever before. Changes in the skills a job demands, algorithms and digitisation, a sense that change is good for its own sake all contribute to shorter tenure. Added to which employees are restless to improve their situation, get better bosses, earn more money and find that Holy Grail, the perfect job. Revolutions and wars produced the same turmoil but they were usually localised. Today’s disruption is worldwide.

For more than half the people who do so losing their job comes as a profound shock. Lulled into a false sense of security by laudatory appraisals and apparently cordial relations with their bosses they have been unaware of the sniping going on around them. They have not observed the hints that all is not well. For them dismissal comes out of the blue.

Rule No 1 for everyone employed is look, listen, interpret. You don’t have to become paranoid, just observant. Failure to sense what is going on may be the very cause of your termination. The mythical ostrich with its head in the sand cannot see danger. Watch for signs of disrespect from subordinates, being bypassed about decisions that should be yours, not being invited to meetings you should have attended, cancelled meetings, ‘post-decision information’. “Oh, I forgot to tell you…” is a signal that it is you who has been forgotten.

Rule No 2 is keep your contacts in touch and in order. However you handle your contact list be sure to note [a] those whose views about business and jobs you really respect, [b] those who might one day give you a job and [c] those who you think are well disposed towards you. As with public relations the work is done before it is needed. When it is needed it is too late. Keep the first category – those you respect – gently up to date on your career, not with boring reports on your successes or failures but with powerful questions about the significance of events in your work life.

Rule No 3 is for when the bomb is dropped. All firing is unfair, at least to the party being fired. This is no time for remonstrations, complaints, whingeing, excuses. It is a time for icy calm, good, sensible questions and a bit of play-acting you won’t be used to. You have one objective – to make sure that when you are gone they regret it. It won’t get you your job back but it will get you good references, as much financial sympathy as the organisation can bring itself to donate and an ongoing friendship with those who fired you. You may even be asked back. Nice if it happens but you won’t go, of course – unless totally desperate.

Rule No 4 is get busy the minute you know you are leaving. Don’t do anything that could jeopardise your compensation or period of gardening leave but also don’t wait to make your next moves. This is no time for a ‘break’, though, strangely, many people think it is. Do the skiing after you’ve secured your next income. The process you are about to go through is tough and you are required to handle it professionally. Getting a job is not for amateurs.

Rule No 5 is know what you want to do. You may not be able to do it but if you don’t know what it is you certainly won’t. Whatever age you are, but especially if you are between 35 and 60, take steps to discover your purpose. Complete The PASDAQ™ of Purpose unless you have a specific and well-defined vocation. Only when you have your purpose clear are you adequately prepared to move on to Rule No 6.

We’ll deal with that and subsequent rules in the next Daily Paradox.

The PASDAQ™ of Purpose is a proven diagnostic tool of Terrific Mentors International

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