Who will miss you when you are gone?

Yesterday was bittersweet for me as someone I worked with for 20 years was let go. As anyone with that much heritage in a given market, he had his fans and his detractors. Both of whom are right in their own points of view. But this sort of thing isn’t about who is right, it is about what is next. When an organization goes through a drastic personal change there are a number of things that will happen. This is not unlike the 5 steps of grief and loss:

Denial — Team members might block out words and in some ways hide from facts as a defense mechanism to cope with the fact that this person is no longer a part of the team AND the entire company is likely to change. This stage is a buffer to the shock of what just happened. This is especially true if it happens “out of the blue.”

Anger — Team members might lash out at each other, their loved ones, pets, inanimate objects, or even the person that was fired. In some cases, this can even be directed at the person(s) coming in to replace the lost member of the team. In this last case, it is your best way to join the person that was just fired, it is not recommended, at all.

Bargaining — This is where you might try to figure out what could have been done to prevent this. If only we had closed this deal. Why didn’t we get rid of _____________ instead. Is this because ___________ got a raise this year? How do I keep from getting fired? All of these are the wrong questions. Instead, you should be doing your best work, regardless of the bargain at hand.

Depression — The fourth step is the one that can last the longest depending on the change your organization goes through in the days, or months after the person is gone. This depression can affect both sides of the team, those who were fans and those who were not because when a team member is fired, the entire team is affected.

Acceptance — The final stage is when you come to decide that the situation has stabilized and this is the new normal. You may never get to the point where you like the new situation better than the one before but you have gotten to the point where you are no longer pushing against it. Until it happens again.

Which is why it matter if you are missed. If you did the work and made something worth remembering you will be missed when you are gone and regardless of the reasons behind the parting there will be a void where your talent was. Life isn’t about being the most “liked,” it isn’t about having the most “friends,” it is about making an impact and leaving the world better than you found it.

If you can do those things you will be missed and if you cannot, you won’t. If only it were that simple.

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