I was reading an article in the New York Times on the difficulty older people have proving a bias or harm when fired, deleted, given the pink slip, or the newest term I have seen – transitioned through. Without clear proof of harm there is a long uphill legal battle with little chance at compensation.I have read numerous articles on the topic and most contain an interview with a person who claims they did not see it coming. The individual would say something like “I was rated an A performer all my career and then when I was 50, 55, 49, you pick an age, I became a poor performer, but nothing had changed.” This is usually followed by the description of a painful exit process where the employer walked them out the door, they were barely allowed to clean their desk or locker or workstation. I am not making light of the process it is awful and I wish everyone could leave work on their own terms but for most of us, it will not. Leaving an employer even if it is by your choice is never easy and rarely a positive experience. You are leaving comfort, friends, and routine. If you were senior management or an executive you were probably jazzed by being in the action, to some extend your work defined you as a person. If you were forced out, you are more than likely going to be faced with a very antiseptic process, designed to protect your employer from any liability. In most cases “dehiring” is handled by a human resources officer who is well practiced in the art of making your exit quick and smooth for the corporation. They will do their best to make the experience as comfortable as possible in a very uncomfortable moment but in the end it will fall short for what most of us want for the end of our career. Some HR types are good and some… not so much. The person across from you, like you did for so many years, is doing their job. Sure it is fair to be upset with the company, it is only human, we all have a right to a reaction, to grieve, be angry, sad or anywhere in between, but once the dust clears and time has pasted hopefully you will feel excited for what is next.
We could write several blogs on the merits of changing the process for exiting older workers. There has to be a better way, one that benefits both the company by transitioning knowledge and mentoring younger employees while providing a level of dignity for the older employee. In fact I have recently seen articles on companies in Europe doing just that, but for this week’s blog let’s talk about you. Dwelling on how or why you were let go will only delay the healing and the “living” part of your Victory Lap. I once had one of the most well respected executive I worked with in my career tell me that he never met a person who left the Bank that was not happier where they landed, I am not sure that is true but I like the sentiment. More than anything if you are leaving a company that no longer values you as an employee it makes sense to move on, where else in your life would you stay where you are not wanted? If you are leaving by choice, own your decision be positive and move on. You are brave to move on to something new, congratulations.
If you have planned for your Victory Lap, the transition will be easier, if you have financial independence things could be wonderful. I continue to read blogs, and article on how people are adapting to the change they experience in their Victory Lap. This is wonderful news after all the concept of “lifestyle” planning is very new, the big banks are just now talking about lifestyle planning in their advertising. Many people, like yours truly, have had to figure it out on their own. Others have blazed the trail for you demonstrating there is life after your first career. Learn from others but this is your journey, don’t be afraid to try new things, make mistakes, learn and move forward. I read an article in Forbes which suggested a lot of stress we face in Victory Lap is the result of the unknown, making new decisions. In our work career we got paid not to make mistakes, we had knowledge and we were able to make educated decisions. In Victory Lap despite our best preparation we are making new decisions and that can be uncomfortable. Embrace being uncomfortable it is really quite invigorating
This week I thought it was appropriate to end by sending some positive energy into the world. The tragic events in Virginia are tough to watch and it is hard to believe we have this much hate in the world. Let’s try and be kind to each other. Have a happy and positive week.