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How To Prepare For A Termination – What To Do When It Appears That Your Job Is In Jeopardy And You May Be Terminated

By Michael VanBruaene, Guest BloggerGears interlocking

When you see and sense that you may be terminated in the near future, there are actions you can take to prepare for the termination and position yourself to successfully move forward.  It’s important that you have a mind-set that positions you to be effective in these challenging circumstances.  And if you stay you will be in a better position to be successful. 

Here are guidelines you can follow to establish a successful mind-set. 

This Is Not Unusual. Terminations happen all the time for all types of reasons; it’s a normal event in most organizations.  You are not experiencing a unique and/or traumatic event. It’s really a natural organizational activity. Accept that these things happen; they have been occurring for a very long time to a lot of people and will continue to do so.

Focus On Possibility And Opportunity Rather Than Scarcity And What You Are Losing.  Our thinking and mind-set strongly influences how we react and adjust to any situation.  Focus on the possibilities and opportunities that may occur at any time in your life, particularly when you have to find another employer, or decide to work independently.  This could be a great opportunity to move forward professionally and personally.  Think along the lines of:

  • How can I make this an opportunity for moving forward in my career and personally?
  • What more should I do or learn in my life?
  • With whom should I discuss this, from various perspectives and needs?
  • With whom should I connect, in what manner and with what objective?

Often being terminated is a blessing, as it enables you to get out of a rut and find a job better suited to your abilities, needs and interests.

Practice Self-Leadership – have a personal vision for yourself and where you want to go personally and professionally.

Accept And Face It Directly.  Termination is not an obscenity, catastrophic event or disease.  Face the termination possibility head-on as a normal business challenge or project that requires analysis, consideration of alternatives and an action plan which is then implemented.  An attitude that views your circumstances as a challenge that should be pragmatically addressed, rather than a major catastrophe, will help you to be more creative, positive and energetic in developing and implementing a path to a new position.

It’s Not Your Fault.  There are many variables that affect our work performance and the organizations in which we work, and a potential or actual termination.  Success, or lack of it, in organizations is affected by variables such as:

  • Personality incompatibility.  It happens that personalities can be so dissimilar as to affect our performance.  Or your personality may not be compatible with the overall culture of the organization.
  • Skills incompatibility.  Your skills and background may not match up well with what the organization needs.  This could have been a challenge from the start, or the organization may have evolved to where your skills are not a good match.   Or maybe there are now too many employees with certain skills that do not match-up with organization operations.
  • Downsizing.  Organizations, or portions of them, grow and retract all the time.  And when they retract, terminations are inevitable.  It’s a normal organizational event.
  • Just Not A Good Organization And/Or Ineffective Management  Maybe the organization, or your particular work unit, is not a good place in which to work, due to poor executive level management and/or your immediate supervisor.

Be Forthright And Not Embarrassed About Your Status.  When friends or acquaintances ask “how’s it going” let them know that your position is in jeopardy, or that you have been terminated.   At first you may find it awkward, but that will pass; and this is another way to let people know that you may be looking, or are looking, for another position.  They may not know of something, but they may know someone to whom they will refer you or they will remember what you said when they come across something that may be interesting. 

Assess Yourself.  What do you do that seems to occur without much effort, or in which you are not aware of time, is enjoyable and/or fulfilling?  How can this knowledge influence the type of work you do going forward? 

Are There Other Good Opportunities Within Your Organization?  If you like your organization look for opportunities in work units that are better for you.  Some organizations are very supportive of transfers, others not so.  Develop a strategy that is appropriate for you and the organization.

Get Coaching.  This can be formal or informal. Discussing with someone your circumstances can be helpful in developing an approach for moving forward that is pragmatic and therapeutic.  There are all types of coaches, some are better at professional development while others can assist you in living more authentically, or help you adjust to your new circumstances and challenges. Start with one that appears to meet your needs, and if you find it’s not a good fit find another one.  You may not know what you need until you have a few sessions with a coach.

Stay Focused And Centered As Best You Can.  It’s important that you continue to perform well and minimize the stress you may have.  Schedule time for activities that help to lessen stress and keep you centered.

Give Yourself To Others And Be Present When You Do It.  Helping others is great therapy.  It’s important to “be present” when you do it.  You will feel better.  Being present when you help and interact with your children and family is also great for you. (Assuming the help is provided in generally positive circumstances.)

Don’t Resign.  If at all possible stay in your position until you are terminated.  It will allow you to collect unemployment compensation and in some organizations also severance pay.  And it is true that it’s usually easier to find a new job when you are employed. But if your circumstances are very unhealthy do consider resigning.

Start The Search Process.  You can start by updating your resume and social media and/or website profiles.  Network actively and strategically inform people that you may be looking for a new position in the near future. 

Michael VanBruaene was a KPMG Director and blogs at  Michael VanBruaene – Working With CEO’s And Executives To Improve Their Organizations.  ( He can be contacted at

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