B.U.M.P. Syndrome

Kenneth Reich Law
Kenneth Reich Mentoring


That seems to be the uniform reaction of many who have been part of an upsetting and growing trend in today’s workplace. Companies, private and public organizations, law firms, and other institutions have changed course on how they treat their employees, including senior management. Citing the economy and/or corporate reorganization as the reason, they have been lowering the boom on both recent hires as well as senior level management employees because they are considered too expensive to maintain. E.g., http://abovethelaw.com/layoffs/
and http://247wallst.com/2011/08/10/the-2011-layoff-kings-bsx-csco-dal-gci-gs- hbc-lmt-mrk-rimm-shld-cs-ubs-ms-esrx-mhs/.

The cost of this myopic thinking to the discharged professionals and their former companies is great. The cost to the professionals in terms of loss of confidence and income is obvious. But the costs to their former companies, while not as obvious, is worse in the long term: hurting both the companies and a fragile economy that needs more talented and experienced professionals whose practical expertise is an asset, not a liability.

The burning question for the discharged professional is what he/she can do to rectify a bad situation he/she did not create? The answer: a lot. For starters, a simple re-framing of this negative scenario can help the discharged professional regroup and benefit quickly from the abrupt change in circumstances. The old saw that one door closes, another one opens, is true.

One must approach this setback with a “win” strategy that is grounded in one’s expertise and experience. Look at this turn of events as another unexpected bump in the road in your professional life; another problem for you to solve for your client, but this time the client is yourself. If you resist the urge to second guess and question your worth, e.g., what you “missed seeing”, you will be saving yourself valuable time and mental energy. Move forward, but don’t drop the ball. And don’t do it alone.

An abrupt and involuntary termination is a difficult challenge even for the most experienced and senior professional. In these circumstances emotions can cloud effective decision making in ways that may have long term negative consequences for one’s image and future employability. Adding insult to injury, in these times few are given the luxury of a golden parachute. The more common outcome is that one must fend for oneself, and quickly.

Recommendations for what you can and should do as soon as possible:
1. Don’t be ashamed, don’t be publicly hostile, but do be protective of your interests and realize you cannot handle this emotionally fraught and difficult legal process by yourself.

2. Consult independent legal counsel and other professionals who are NOT employed by or in any way affiliated with your former employer. They no longer have your best interests in mind nor can they represent you as a matter of legal ethics.

3. Avoid any public commentary, particularly on social media or emails. The short-term pleasure of blasting your former employer will definitely be very damaging to your prospects of working out a reasonable settlement with them or finding another comparable position. No one wants to hire a perceived whiner or malcontent (even if the discharge was without cause, as most are).

4. Start imagining your next position and consult with a professional mentor for career guidance and to plan how to obtain that dream position.

Unfortunately the formerly rare event of mid-career and late career layoffs has now become commonplace. Fortunately there will be other opportunities for those who have broad talents, think positively and are persistent. Further, the ability to work out of one’s home (or shared office space) in a consulting capacity while looking for something more permanent is very doable, especially with the benefit of modern technology. And working on one’s own, avoiding long commutes and high overhead (and gaining valuable free time) is more and more a matter of choice rather than a situation of last resort.

The important point is to gain control of an uncontrolled situation, with the assistance of experienced, independent, objective professionals.

Kenneth A. Reich, Esq.

Kenneth A. Reich Mentoring





Legal Services and Professional Mentoring Services for both junior and senior professionals/executives.

Disclaimer: The provision of mentoring services does not contitute and shall not be considered the practice of law. The provision of such services does not establish an attorney-client relationship with the recipient of such services. Mr. Reich has a separate website for his legal practice, which can be found at www.kennethreichlaw.com.