More often than not employees, especially Job Be Damned readers, will find themselves in times where the organisation has had it with their shenanigans. Getting fired seems to be an imminent possibility and all need to be prepared.
Losing a job, along with divorce, death, moving houses and illness, ranks in the top five stressful events that people can go through. Just like a gun recoils when a bullet is fired, so does society when you are. I could introduce you to a lot of friends who have been laid off but they are unfortunately still in hiding. Sure, you will eventually bounce back and find a new job but the thumb rule is that it takes a month of search for every million rupees in compensation you were making. So at a salary of Rs 2 million per annum, you’ll find your next role within two months, and if Rs 15 million, get ready to twiddle your thumbs for over a year.
It’s not like you will be taken by surprise; there will be numerous hints to indicate that a pink slip is on the way. Contrary to logic, you find work being reassigned rather than dumped on you. You are excluded from meetings and not marked on emails. Your spending limits are cut and the boss, who you have invested years in sucking up to, is either micromanaging or avoiding you entirely. Projects have ridiculously impossible targets and deadlines and you are being set up for failure. What is most alarming is that the management has started documenting every goof-up in what seems like a casual email but is actually an evil ploy to build a paper trail to support your impending sacking. You suddenly find yourself very dispensable.
Job Be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya; Harper Collins; Rs 299
So if you find yourself heading towards sackdom, instead of popping anti-stress pills, influence matters so that you get a significant settlement out of it.
If you are sacked, you get nothing but a cardboard carton for your belongings. If you resign, there’s the added benefit of an exit interview but nothing more. If you get retrenched however, that is you are asked to leave for no reason other than organisational or environmental factors, it could be as meaningful as winning the airport lotteries while transiting through the Middle East. Retrenchments are usually accompanied by an attractive package including special payouts, vesting of equity, support with finding a new job and so on. These exercises usually take place during times of cost-cutting or mergers when organisations lay off large parts of their workforce. But organisations could be open to let go of useless talent at all times, so getting on the retrenchment list can be highly beneficial.
Make your boss the target of your conniving ploys; the key is to be as exasperating as you can but without crossing the fine line between being an ass and gross insubordination. If he gives you any task, ask him whether it is in line with the company’s mission and refuse it by stating, "I don’t think it is worthwhile to spend my time on something that is not even in sync with what the company wants to do." If he doesn’t budge, have your to-do list handy and ask him what task you should drop instead so you can work on this one.
Another way to get his goat is to try and get him sacked instead. Go to your boss’s boss and complain vociferously about all the screw-ups that your immediate supervisor is making. Be outspoken and claim that you are doing this only for the good of the organisation. Rope in your other staunch enemy, the HR manager, and snitch about him as well. Try and get both idiots fired and document everything on email. If they are building a paper trail to get rid of you, use your nuclear boomerang to obliterate them.
Now it’s unlikely that you will succeed but you have just made it much harder for them to fire you. From being a documented dolt, you have been elevated to a bothersome pain; the repercussions of letting you go could be enormous. You will likely get called into the room to negotiate so go in with your head held high and come out with a big settlement check in your hands.
Your Transition Out
Sometimes we voluntarily seek even more dullness than what we have and decide to change jobs. While all jobs are pretty much the same when it comes to jading and burning out, there is one big upside of switching roles — transitioning. We have already explored how you can maximise the transitioning in period when you start a new job. Even more fantastic are the few months once you have resigned but are serving out your notice period — the transitioning out period.
Try not to be overly smug as you announce your resignation to colleagues and the congratulatory messages start coming in; wait until you are formally out of the company before you rub it in. People will reach out, hoping for opportunities in your new organisation; start having casual coffees with anyone you might want to poach. Expectations will be rock bottom with everyone assuming that you have tuned out and any work you do is a bonus for the organisation. No one is asking you to be generous so relax and take your time — don’t rush on anything and simply ignore whatever you don’t want to do.
Focus instead on other priorities and administrative formalities. Take printouts of files that you want to pilfer for your new role. Your boss may want a handover note so write some drivel — no one is ever going to refer to it. Prepare your farewell email, start practising your goodbye speech and don’t leave anyone important out from either. Leave work early, come in late, but every once in a while announce to everyone that despite your impending departure, you are on the ball. You will feel good about yourself.
The faster you have a successor identified to take over from you, the more you will enjoy your transitioning out period; the new guy will come with boundless enthusiasm to start executing. Ensure that your boss quickly gets the faith that your job will continue to lie in equally incompetent hands once you’re gone. If he has no one in mind to replace you, spend some time identifying a guinea pig — either internally or externally. Gift a copy of Job Be Damned to your successor; he will thank you.
When switching jobs, the last few months in your current job and the first few in the new one comprise the transition period. These are incredibly relaxing and stress-free phases and the average employee can make as many as ten to fifteen transitions in the course of a career. At six months a transition, this is essentially six-seven years where one can get away by doing nothing in a comfortable low-expectations environment. Maximise it.
As the late Steve Jobs once said, "I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again..." Unless you have the leadership qualities, talent and stock options that Steve Jobs had, you can ignore this quote; this is completely irrelevant for you. Getting fired from anywhere will be a real pain in the backside; getting laid off with a substantial package, however, will not. So, work towards it. Over time you may even find that it is more lucrative to keep getting retrenched from multiple organisations than determinedly working your way up one.
(Excerpted with permission of Harper Collins from Job Be Damned by Rishi Piparaiya.)