How to recover after getting the boot

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Bruce Springsteen had a smash hit with the song that started out with the following lyrics:

“Born in a dead man’s town
The first kick I took was when I hit the ground
You end up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up”

You can interpret these lyrics anyway you want. What do they mean to you? What do they remind you of?

I think of people, good honest people, working for banks, motor car factories, mines, the hospitality industry, who work their guts out.

Often they live in fear almost like the threat of death trying to hold on to their jobs, especially now in a shrinking economy. And it all comes to a sorry end when bank branches shutdown, the motor car factory retrenches, the mine is closed and the retail chain goes under.

The people who have worked so hard being part of a team, helping build the company, get kicked in the teeth. They leave with a payout that’s really only going to keep them and their family away from starvation and the streets.

Someone I know worked for years in a home appliances factory in Johannesburg. He worked himself up to a general manager with this brand name consumer goods manufacturer. This company decided to scale back local production, referring to import products from a central factory in Europe.

This man, a father with disabled children, was booted out onto the street. He pulled his own strings and eventually rewired himself as a business broker. He is very good at what he does. Business people who have bought manufacturing businesses from him invite him back for tea to show him how well they are doing.

It’s a crying shame that more companies aren’t committed to helping out people they boot out of their front door, leading them to the security gate to drop off their access card. No outplacement services are available for people who are discarded. HR managers don’t even seem to care. Managers are only too glad to get rid of their people because they are too frightened to look them in the eye.

A change is needed in companies. They need to bring in outplacement specialists. They need to give employees access to coaches long before retrenchment takes place. People close to retirement should be respected rather than placed in a downgraded role left to wait until they turn 63 or 65. At 60 they could be given mentorship roles to transfer their expertise, skills and experience to younger employees.

One guy I know, a former HR manager himself, has been retrenched three times and has managed 14 retrenchment programs. He’s working as a coach now to help people who have got the boot and have been kicked in the teeth.

It’s a totally new world when you leave the security of a company. Some people flounder. Others give up. A few are lucky enough to be picked up by other companies because of their unique set of skills and experience. Others are able to translate and transform their skills, expertise and experience into a one-person service business.

If you have been let go from a company and need someone to talk to, contact me for a free 15-minute consultation. I have coached and mentored people out of work as well as small business people running their own business (I prefer working with business leaders who have a business with minimum of R20 million turnover per year). However, to give back I am open to assisting individuals wanting to come up with something of their own.

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