How to be fired with class.

Life is not like a box of chocolates. You see, I eat a chocolate at a time, maybe a few, until i’m satisfied, then I come back and have a few more. Your career, likely won’t play out the same way; that’s not life. Your career, may have moments, where you run out of chocolate way too soon.

No one has written about how to get fired, yet if you’re a successful individual, like all good coaches, athletes and executives, it comes with the territory. You may be fired multiple times in your career.

I decided to write this post, on exactly what to do, when you’re fired.

  1. Be aware, you get fired from your job, but not your career.

When you’re in a job, it is a mutualistic relationship. When it’s no longer mutual, it ends much like any relationship can. It can end abruptly, or descend over time. It does not mean your career is over, your career is never a job, and a job is never your career. A career is not a mutualistic relationship, you own your career. Remember, your career is never over, but the limited scope of that job is.

2. Your job ended before you walked in the room

You’re not going to work there at the end of the conversation. Not in scope, is getting your job back. Take that out of the equation. You can make a few plays, one of which is for more money, severance, relationship and recommendation. A job, is not in scope. It’s not a future ending, it ended, to get your job back is not a possibility.

3. Do not say anything

This isn’t legal advice. Not because i’m not a lawyer, it’s just unrealistic that you’re going to make your best decision in that very moment. So take a home field advantage and figure out what you’ll say in your own place and time. No one expects anything right then, and if you give them nothing, that is probably best. You should say LESS than 50 words in the entire termination. Count them, seriously, every word. No more than 50.

4. Ask for Time to Make Any Decisions

People generally respect using good judgement. Generally, rationality is a time delineated process. If you ask for time to make a decision, it indicates an intention to make rational decisions during a highly volatile and emotional process. This will generally be respected. (Keep in mind, you’ve used 8 words at this point; 42 left so use them wisely)

5. Let’s make a deal

There are one of three scenarios that occur.

a. No deal

It could be that your employer doesn’t have an offer for you, they are just offering you what they are legally required to, generally vacation time and your final pay check. If this is all you are offered, you take it. You do nothing else and sign nothing.

b. A trade

All claims require time, and time requires money. Generally, to avoid even a frivolous claim, your employer will value an agreement not to file a legal claim to some degree over what they must provide (vacation + final pay). This is severance. It comes at a cost, you will sign away your ability to make claim. This is negotiable, but if you’re not going to sue, you should make a small negotiation after the fact (and with it a specific ask), and then sign the letter.

c. A Disagreement

Sometimes, there are gray contractual areas. For instance, was it with cause or without cause, and what payout is required. If there is a disagreement, you either go with option B, or you retain legal counsel after your departure.

5. You May Be Asked To Resign

Just do it. Seriously, you can do it on your terms or their terms. There may be a small piece of legal advice to seek regarding unemployment. However, you will write the below letter.

6. Execute Any Plays

After you have taken the time to reflect, set a time to announce your asks and inform of your decisions. If you are negotiating any severance or have any asks of your employer before resigning, you need to schedule a time or write an email to make the asks.

7. Address Your Staff (This opportunity should be an ask)

I admittedly, stole this letter from Jim Comey, who i’m convinced stole it from someone else (ironic as the FBI director) or he is a literary genius. I have made some edits, i’m convinced, this is the only communication you share.

To all:

I have long believed that an employer and an employee should be able to make any directional change they wish for any reason, or for no reason at all. That is the power and great responsibility of leadership and organizational independence. I’m not going to spend time on the decisions or the way they have been executed. I hope you won’t either. They are done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and our daily work together, so deeply.

I hope I have shared with you, that, in times of turbulence, in it’s wake, we should leverage one another for support and abutment. What makes leaving our team so hard is the nature and quality of our team, who together have made work a place, that personally makes me stronger.

It is very hard to leave a group of people who are committed only to doing great work. My hope is that you will continue to perform in such a highly regarded manner, and spread the positive ethos of our work and time together where ever you go.

If you continue to do just that, you too will be sad when you move forward in your career, and the organization you leave behind will be stronger as a result of your time.

Working with you has been one of the great joys of my life. Thank you for that gift.

7. Get Out

You should leave immediately. You should exit the room, identify a time you can collect some belongings. Drop off your letter of resignation. (Below)

Dear ___________,

I wish to resign from my current position at ___________________. It has been an incredible opportunity to work at ______________ and I wish to share my appreciation for your involvement in my professional journey.

I resign my position, effective __________________. (Ideally this is immediately)


8. Remove your belongings, and leave

This time is over. You do not work there, and you have no interest in telling the story in a negative light. You only speak positively about that experience, and you do not need to hesitate to indicate the manner in which the relationship ended based on the class to which you resolved the ending.