Life at Up Up and Away Investment Management International; Chapter 6; (A serialized novel by Robert K. Stephen)

Chapter 6

Welcome to the theatre of the “downsized”

I knew something ominous was imminent when I received a call from Felicity Poker’s assistant that our 3 o’clock meeting had been switched from Poker’s office to an office in the Human Resources Department. Instinctively I knew It was going to be my own Blessed Event. My legs went into jelly mode.

Well at least the Blessed Event for me was quick and accompanied by a curt Felicity Poker goodbye somewhere along the lines of,” We have decided to reorganize and your services are no longer required. We would like to thank you for your services. Here is your severance package.” With a smirk on her face she quickly departed. Then some unknown man entered the office introducing himself as an outplacement counsellor with some terribly insightful, “I know how bad you feel. If you want to talk about it I am here for you.” I said, “No thank you.” I took his outplacement information package along with my severance package and walked out.

In retrospect I could say I knew this was coming especially reflecting on Brian Cochon’s words to me when he knew I would not approve a pay out to his client of certain pension fund expenses they had paid into the fund. He really did mean me and not CRAP when he said unless you refund those expenses you’ll be terminated. This was blackmail and intimidation and since Felicity Poker was no doubt involved it was a conspiracy to commit blackmail. In retrospect I should have reported their actions to the police and The Law Society of Upper Canada.

Now if the Blessed Event happens to you I think it means that you misunderstood largecorp’s culture and management personalities. Even if your decisions and actions were sound you piss off the wrong person you are toast.

If there is any good about the Blessed Event it is that you most likely have escaped a toxic environment and gained a jolting insight into largecorp. Being terminated is a brutal act. It tells you that you are not valued as an employee and subjects you to an elevated level of financial and emotional stress particularly if this is the first time you have experienced it. Remember your reactions may not equip you with the right winning attitude you need to move on and succeed. Sorry for using those words “winning attitude”. I get a bit sarcastic now and then. It sounds like I copied those words from some management textbook.

Now being mindful my advice is not to take the Blessed Event personally. You can’t change what has just happened and the more you contemplate this act of brutality and get caught up in it the more hurt you will heap on yourself.

Strangely enough you are now the star of the show! The centre of attention! The stage is ablaze with your racing emotions of anger, hurt, hatred, revenge, insecurity and panic. As I previously said you can dump most of these emotions in the trash where they belong or keep them professionally managed and use them as an energy source to fuel your job search. For goodness sake don’t waste them on the gawkers of your terrible corporate smash up. There are no doubt a few onlookers who would derive great satisfaction from seeing you dragged away from your “termination room” by the Pinkerton boys!

Remember you are on the stage doing a dog and pony show for a prospective employer. If you are wrapped up in a plethora of negative emotions how can you be a good actor! The prospective employer has now become the director in your life. Stick to the script found in all sorts of self-help books and advice from outplacement counsellors on how to land a new job. That script is often full of baloney and hot air so like a good actor you’ll need to adlib a bit to appear “genuine”.

I think I survived my Blessed Event by treating my role as an actor in the Theatre of the Downsized. This permitted me to distance myself from the brutality and treat myself as an actor. Follow my advice and you’ll be a lot healthier for doing so.

But you say I am not an actor! Perhaps you have a good point there! There are few natural actors. Most require formal training. You’ll get loads of training from your outplacement counsellors if you are lucky enough to be given access to one. You’ll also get your script from the self help books I mentioned and from the outplacement counsellors. And don’t be shy as having worked in largecorp where you have done quite a lot of acting pretending to listen to management spewing out gibberish and the concerned look you gave at your performance appraisal sessions almost looked as if you cared about the process. In both cases your inner self shouts “Idiots” but you give a sage nod of approval in your acting capacity as an employee.

If you know largecorp you know all too well its Senior Management Team are the masters of doublespeak. They rarely walk the talk as they are too busy justifying their looting and pillaging of the corporate coffers.

However even if you think you are a decent actor on the largecorp stage and you received excellent performance appraisals the truth is that your bit part may come to a crashing thud and you can be a victim of a corporate hit with a carpet being prepared to roll up your body, take it out of the office and throw it in a dump truck.

Of course I don’t want to be grandmotherly here (and I assume your grandmother never worked in a largecorp) but have some pride in your accomplishments. You were respected by your colleagues and clients and did an excellent job but most likely you failed to play the Game well enough. If you are terminated you most likely failed to say” Yes” enough. You failed to flatter your superiors and you really cared about clients.

The SMT at largecorp would like to have you believe they care about clients but they are too busy justifying their existence so as not to get themselves taken out by a corporate hit, shifting blame instead of taking responsibility and obsessively running numbers but real client management is performed by their underlings like you and me. And it is client management that brings revenue to largecorp.

So remember the spotlight is now shining on you in your termination room. Ask any questions you need an immediate answer for. Show no anger and shed no tears. Exit your termination session and grab that severance package and get off the stage. Go home and get anti-corporate and have a Martini or two. Celebrate the fact you are no longer a corporate drone.

I know few largecorp employees that have not been terminated. It is part of the unwritten job description. And while it really hurts the first time when it happens again you’ll be less devastated because you’ll know through all the people you meet at your outplacement counselling sessions and networking interviews being terminated by largecorp is just the way it is for countless thousands of people.

So what role does your Human Resources Department have in your demise? Rest assured they have been consulted and asked what a reasonable severance package would be. You can usually count on one of them being present at your Blessed Event with a termination offer. They may have arranged for an outplacement counsellor representative to be present at the meeting. In many cases adding to the brutality of the termination a security guard has grabbed your jacket, purse and briefcase and is waiting outside the termination room to escort you downstairs.

Quite frankly the Human Resource Department’s job is to get you out the door at the lowest possible cost. They are very polished at this as largecorp has terminated many people in the past. Your agony has nothing to do with them. All they want to do is get it over with so they can go out for a smoked meat sandwich, without the fries as the latest version of largecorp’s wellness publication had warned all employees of the dangers of eating fries! Of course not out of concern for your health but to lower long term disability costs caused by your clogged arteries when accompanied by largecorp stress leads to heart attacks.

Again, I urge you not to take them too seriously. They have a standard script. It is most likely your boss that is the hitman behind your termination. The Human Resources Department representatives are simply low-ranking employees doing what they are told. Again I say restrict any of your utterances to asking necessary questions. There is no sense in being rude. No tears or pleading please! No matter what pressure is being placed on you do not sign anything on he spot.

It is interesting we fuss with the defence of blind obedience to underlings in concentration camp proceedings yet in a Canadian largecorp like CRAP the SMT can economically murder thousands yet be honored by charitable foundations due to their magnificence. It shows how sluttish charities are to largecorp. It illustrates the many internal contradictions of largecorp.

Published by Robert K Sephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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