“I, along with other colleagues, believe that this was a political game. This was the first time I was let go like this. I was shell-shocked.”
Vikram Jain was living the life he had always dreamed of, working in a well-known healthcare multi-national corporation. He was recognised and respected as a top performer in his company, had won various awards, had been promoted many times and received rave reviews in his four years there.
When John moved to the US, Vikram expressed a desire to be based there, as he had lived and worked there for a few years. John obliged and Vikram moved there in 2016. This was when things started to take a wrong turn. His company merged with another company, and there were some leadership changes, following which his mentor John was fired.
Vikram, who was until then, a star performer and nominated to be part of the leadership was also unceremoniously fired for being a ‘non-performer’. Since it was deemed to be performance related, and he was fired, instead of being laid off, Vikram did not receive a severance.
“I, along with other colleagues, believe that this was a political game. This was the first time I was let go like this. I was shell-shocked,” says Vikram.
While being sad and angry internally, he covered this up by appearing outwardly strong and plastering a plastic smile on his face. His other colleagues, including some who were quite high up in the company hierarchy, shared his emotions, but there was nothing that could be done.
“Things were political and driven by bottom-line arithmetic. I just could not believe this was happening to me. I felt negative emotions about myself, not about my work performance, but that I had allowed myself to be part of a political game,” adds Vikram.
The company did not officially provide counselling but Vikram had a contact who worked in human resources who counselled him unofficially. Even though the contact was unable to influence the decision to let him go, Vikram felt supported. He also sought counselling outside of the company (for reasons not related to his layoff) and leant on family and friends for emotional support.
Related: It’s important to provide counselling to managers and employees before and after layoffs. If you are an employer looking to conduct a session or training for managers who oversee layoffs, please reach out to us by filling this form.
“There were other dynamics and issues that came to the fore, and her stonewalling and lack of support were quite disappointing. In her anger, she even made personality attacks, trying to justify that the management were right in what they did,” says Vikram. He did not expect this from his wife.
His wife’s negativity worked like rubbing salt on his wounds. His extended family, however, was very understanding and sympathetic. A distant relative who is a business coach and aspiring writer reached out to him and helped him during this difficult time. Former bosses and colleagues were helpful in identifying new opportunities and supported Vikram in his job search.
“The love and validation I have gotten from other quarters have been phenomenal,” adds Vikram.
To pull himself out his funk, Vikram did a lot of reading, especially of new-age and self-help books, which helped him remain positive and not blame himself. While there were times when he questioned why this happened to him, he would quickly snap out of it, accept his situation, focus on the present and think about what to do next.
Some of his well-wishers asked him to pursue a legal route, but after giving it some thought, he chose not to do so, for various reasons. After coming back to India and getting his family settled in, he has returned to the US on a short-term consulting engagement.
By being himself and by believing in himself, Vikram has managed to dig himself out of the initial negativity, and he has been reaching out to people, who have been laid off like him and being as helpful and sympathetic to them, offering support without judgment.
To ensure that something like this doesn’t happen again, he is in the process of pursuing an entrepreneurial path and setting up his own company with some friends.
“I have not and will not allow what happened to me to happen to others,” promises Vikram.
1. First, believe in yourself. Accept what has happened. Don’t delve into blame games or fault-finding exercises.
2. Live in the moment (it can be tough) and move on.
3. If you find support outside, leverage it, but if it doesn’t come in the form you are looking for, don’t get bogged down.
4. Don’t be afraid to seek help from counsellors. It is not the job-loss alone that needs to be addressed, but emotional well-being is as important. You might also find that this is not an isolated event, so be open to reviewing your life.
Vikram Jain (name changed) is a senior IT professional turned first-time entrepreneur.
Note: This story is a real incident captured as part of the #Fired2FiredUp Campaign by YourDOST. Visit the page for more such stories and tips from career psychologists and recruiters. Have you experienced a layoff recently? Are you finding it difficult to cope with it? Talk to an Expert at YourDOST