A Long Overdue Breakup – How I Got Laid Off From My Job

An unexpected termination!

My lay off from my job really was like a long overdue breakup with a significant other. Each side knows the right thing to do but doesn’t want to be the first to pull the trigger.

On one hand, you have so much history, so much invested in the relationship that you think that it would be such a waste for it to all come to naught. The good experiences are still there, and you can easily relive those good times of the past.

But the present difficulties cannot be ignored. The company’s needs have changed, with the changing business environment. They need an aggressive, no holds barred sales person.

And my needs have changed as well. I’m no longer the starry-eyed, ambitious manager willing to do whatever it takes to be promoted to the highest levels in the company.

We’ve grown apart.

This post is the story of how I got laid off from my job in 2018.

The Breakup Talk

When the very new sales manager asked for an update on my sales activity with a voice expressing concern, I knew something was amiss.

I had joined the company nearly a decade ago in operations, and I was quite successful. I ran several engagements, and then got promoted to managing client relationships and growing the accounts. And, I appreciated the experiences, titles, and economic rewards the company gave me in return.

But several months prior to the meeting, my boss at that time asked me to concentrate on sales of a new product. And even though I had no pure sales experience (in sales, I would have to find completely new clients on my own, to create something out of nothing, so to speak) , I wanted to help out the company that had been so good to me.

Everyone knew the sales cycle was long for our industry, with 12-18 months being fairly common. That, coupled with the fact that I was a very new sales person spearheading a new product and who had shown loyalty to the company for many years, I thought I had wiggle-room. I even had gotten significant traction with large potential clients.

But I had no sales yet.

The call ended with a good heart-to-heart discussion of how I came to be in this role (since the new sales manager wasn’t privy to my backstory), and an honest assessment of where my strengths lay and the company’s needs.

So much for job security

Two weeks later, I had the meeting with HR and the sales manager, and I was laid off the following Friday.

But No “He Said/She Said”

I was actually a bit surprised that it ended so swiftly. I expected a probation period to improve, since this was the first quarterly evaluation cycle. But I was out almost immediately. It actually reminded me of investment banking, though the company did not immediately cut off my email and metaphorically escort me out of the building (but then, I worked remotely at the current company).

Even though I never spoke specifically to my new sales manager or my old boss about their thinking and thought process afterwards, I knew it wasn’t easy for them.

Having been a reporting manager to 65+ staff, I’ve sat on their side of the desk. I’ve had my share of difficult discussions, including about compensation and termination. I knew that what I decided would seriously affect someone’s livelihood, their family’s quality of life, and their future career path.

The emotional toll of balancing the needs of the company vs. the needs of the employee is great on managers.

I could always point to my previous track record of good performance, my years of loyalty, and how I tried in good faith to do what was outside my knowledge/skill level.

And the company could always say that the company’s needs changed, that sales is all about revenue, black and white, and this sales quota is what I signed up for.

But this would be unproductive and a waste of energy.

Instead, I chose to use my energy to move forward into my exciting future… because unbeknownst to anyone, I fortunately had been pursuing Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) for years.

But, unfortunately, I wasn’t FIRE yet!

What about you?

Have you been in a similar situation?  With FIRE so close and yet so far?

2 Replies to “A Long Overdue Breakup – How I Got Laid Off From My Job”

  1. Curious: did you have a choice to remain as a manager? Did you have choice to going back to managing? Or did you have to go into and remain in sales?

    1. That’s a good question.

      For my situation, when my boss “asked me” to go into sales, it was obvious that he wasn’t “asking.” He was giving an order as a superior to a subordinate.

      How did I know this? It was my 7 years of understanding the company culture, of understanding the needs of the company, and my own situation.

      And in this company culture (as in many others whose origins are in Asia), if you give a flat out “No” to a new role offered to you by your boss, then you need to be prepared to be terminated immediately. It would be a sign of disloyalty.

      Also, bonuses from the previous year had not been paid out yet, so being terminated before the money had hit the bank account was a real risk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.