Yesterday’s announcement by Merck that it would trim its 81,000-strong workforce by some 20 percent only added to the misery caused by the government shut-down and the loss of countless public sector gigs.
While these downsizings no doubt impact workers of all ages, they typically paralyze middle-aged, middle managers. I should know. Hundreds have sought my help in the past few years.
And almost always, the downsized, middle-aged middle managers who beat a trail to my door exhibit one of the five stages of grief first identified among terminally-ill patients in Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s 1969 breakthrough book, ‘On Death and Dying’.
Those stages are:
So, I’ll hear such rants or laments as, “They fired the wrong guy,” and “They had no respect for me or my craft” to “I wonder if I should offer to return at 50 percent of my previous salary?” and “I’ve always wanted to work at Peppercomm. These other jobs were just detours.”
I work with those middle managers who possess marketable skills AND have adapted to the changing business landscape (read: they engage daily in social media). I also try to help those middle-aged executives who maintain a healthy, upbeat attitude.
But, I will not work with those who expect me to do the heavy lifting (i.e. editing and updating their resume, thinking through their next career move, pestering me with daily e-mails to find out if I’ve landed any interviews for them, etc.).
Few things are more satisfying than helping a friend in need. But, sadly, the demand for downsized, middle-aged middle managers will never catch-up with the supply. So, ‘help wanted’ types need to first help themselves. They need to lose the denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance traits and, instead, reinvent themselves (and their ‘tudes).
Adjust the attitude, update the skills and, trust me, the right employer will want your help.