Posted by Brian McCullough
If you have career or job search question you would like answered on this blog, click here to Ask Brian.
Help! My boss just got fired! The entire office is in a state of panic!
Now, normally the Ask Brian questions are a bit longer than this. But in the case of Carlotta, the rest of her question contained details and problems that were too specific to her situation to be helpful (I prefer to post Ask Brians that contain advice a wide range of readers can use) AND too revealing of her employer to be safe. So, in the interest of both usefulness and privacy, I’ve cut off the rest of the question. I answered Carlotta’s specific issues over email.
Nonetheless… I find the question itself to be interesting: what to do if your boss gets canned? So, I’ll provide some tips after the jump.
- Yes. Your job is possibly in trouble. In some organizations, the elimination of a boss can indicate the planned dissolution or reconfiguring of his or her team. You yourself may not get fired, but you can expect some changes. Maybe you’ll be moved around a bit. At the very least, things won’t operate the same.
- Focus on the fact that your team as you know it (team, office, division, project, etc… all the same thing) might not be sticking around much longer. The firing of the boss is often the sign and symptom of a reorganization. If your team is being split up and moved around, the savvy team member is he who positions himself first. Figure out which team you WANT to transition to, and start greasing the wheels ASAP. Don’t wait for upper management to give you an assignment. You might not like their decision.
- Is it a layoff or downsizing-type firing? If so, your boss getting cut is the clearest indication you need to look out for your own head. Head for dry ground.
- Is it a nasty firing? Maybe a disagreement with management? Maybe your boss was a screwup? If so, you need to clean your boss’ stink off your reputation right away. If upper management canned the big boss, they’ll still want to salvage some of the team. This might be Machiavellian stuff, but you want to start advertising that you were one of the good eggs that the bad old boss was stymieing.
- Loyalty to your boss? That depends. Do you like your boss? Does she have a parachute of some kind? If it’s the type of firing where the boss will land on her feet and maybe move on to greener pastures, consider joining her. Then again… another line of thinking would be to consider the basic law of the jungle: if the chief is dead, that creates the best environment for Lieutenants like yourself to work for advancement.