I Know the Future Will Be Good
by William S. Frank
Passenger Jet Flying Toward the Future
 
  OUTPLACEMENT is the business of helping people losing their jobs to be re-employed. Sometimes it’s done one-on-one, sometimes in groups. I've done onesie-twosies and worked in 5,000-person layoffs.

This time I was headed to an oil and gas company in Wyoming where a manager was to terminate his best friend of 25 years. This was a tough one. Mark, the manager, asked me to meet him the night before to plan the termination meeting. He met me in his hotel room, which was odd.

He was tearful and said he was terminating his best friend, Travis. Their wives were best friends and worked together. Their children were best friends and played together.

    "This is going to ruin their lives and our friendships. This is a small town. The oilfield is laying off. There’s no work here. Travis and his family will have to relocate. It will tear our families apart. I can’t do this."

This was one of the few times I've seen a seasoned manager cry.

I assured Mark that I would help them, and that the process would have a good outcome. He believed me, but was terribly fearful. He asked if I would sit in on the termination meeting to help him out, and I told him that outplacement consultants don’t do that. We like to be perceived as the solution, not as part of the problem.

He insisted and said it was the only way he could proceed; so I agreed. The following morning we met with Travis. Mark was so distraught he could barely say, "Your job is being eliminated.” He left the room and I took over, explaining who I was and how I was going to help. I told Travis I was taking him to Denver for a few days to begin the re-employment process, and I asked him to go speak with his wife.

I told him she would receive the news as he presented it: if he presented it as a crisis, she would go into crisis, the family would plunge into turmoil, and we would spend the next few weeks undoing the damage. If, however, he presented it as unfortunate, but as an opportunity, it would be much easier to manage.

Travis left to go home. We met at the airport, and once in the air, I asked how he was doing.

    "I'm concerned and my wife is worried. But I've been a survivor all my life. I was an Eagle Scout. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know it will be good."

He said it with such certainty I knew it was a fact. His future would be good. And I knew in that moment that the outplacement assignment would be easy.

We flew to Denver and began assessment exercises. Travis handled logistics for new oil wells. That is, he prepared the roads, and got all necessary supplies and equipment to the drill-site. We talked about consulting as an option, and the idea of having several employers, not just one. We built Travis a blueprint for the future and a resume. We talked about job hunting strategies, and he returned to Wyoming.

In a few short weeks of investigating, Travis determined that his original employer still needed his services, but as a consultant, not as a full-time employee. Several other oil and gas companies needed logistics too, and within three months, Travis had replaced his income, even improved it. He was his own boss with much more freedom and control.

He retained his lifetime friendship with his prior boss. Their wives and children remained friends. It was a happy outcome in a dire situation. And it was built on the client’s attitude: “I don’t know what my future holds, but I know it will be good.”

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William S. Frank (Bill) is President/CEO of CareerLab® in Denver, CO—USA. Bill does one thing right: he helps businesspeople maximize their careers. That's it. Nothing else. He works nationally in-person or by phone. Companies hire him and so do forward-thinking individuals. Since 1978, 355 brand-name corporations, small businesses, non-profits, and educational institutions in far-ranging industries have hired Bill to provide Testing & Assessment, Executive Coaching, and Outplacement. If you like his writing, his website www.careerlab.com includes 200 free articles and www.cover-letters.com offers 1,000 FREE cover letters.

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