Engineering a Smooth Transition on Your Own Terms….With Severance

The information below comes from an article I found on LinkedIn that was posted by Liz Ryan, CEO and Founder of Human Workplace. My edited version appears below, but if want to read the full article, you’ll find it here:

Negotiating Your Own Severance Package

By Liz Ryan, CEO & Founder
Human Workplace

The situation: You have a new boss (let’s call him Robert) who’s sending you not so subtle signals that you don’t fit with the direction he wants to take his team. You know it’s time to make a change and are concerned that Robert will cut you loose before you’ve been able to make a change on your own terms.

How do you engineer a smooth transition that also s you position for a severance package?

Start by openly addressing the not so subtle messages you’re getting and start a conversation about a civilized departure. Let Robert know that you see how this situation is uncomfortable for him without sounding aggrieved or petulant. Find out if he’s willing to talk about ways to break the logjam of non-communication. If you can be completely human with Robert and lift him up to the same human level, you shouldn’t have to beg or grovel.

Remember, you won’t get an “everybody-is-okay” exit plan out of the goodness of his heart. You’ll only get there by being human with each another.

Here’s how that conversation might go:

YOU (Employee): So, ROBERT, do you have a moment to talk?

ROBERT (Manager): Sure, Art, what’s up?

YOU: If you have a second, let’s grab a cup of coffee.


YOU: Thanks for taking a few minutes to talk, ROBERT. I appreciate it.

ROBERT: No problem.

YOU: Listen, I wanted to say that I know these past few months have not been easy for you. I got thrown into your group. You didn’t hire me, and that’s not the best situation to be in.

ROBERT: I – well – thanks for mentioning that. I guess it’s all learning, right?

YOU: Well, I give you credit, because I haven’t been in that situation as a manager before and I can’t imagine it would be easy. You must have in mind exactly the kind of person you could use in my role.

ROBERT: I just – we need to be more on time with the scripts. We can’t keep lagging behind.

YOU: I agree with you. It has to be a smoother engine. I’m not as much of a smooth-engine guy, to be honest, as I am a get-the-new-product-out guy, and I understand that’s really frustrating for you to deal with.

ROBERT: So what are you saying?

YOU: I’m just saying I’m not arguing for my job or trying to make you keep trying to put a square peg in a round hole. You deserve to have what you want in your Software Quality Manager. I mean, I think that’s the definition of a manager, right? You get to put your team together. You and I have been at this a year and I don’t think anyone is popping the champagne.

ROBERT: Right.

YOU: So, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if you’re thinking “What am I going to do about this YOU situation?” I would be, if I were you. That’s why I wanted to dig into the topic with you and just figure it out between us if we can.

ROBERT: Do you have a suggestion?

YOU: You need a different guy in this role (a unisex term) and I need to be in a different place. I mean, I could start job-hunting. You could give me some time to do it. I can keep you in the loop.

ROBERT (in fear – he’s never done this before) How much time?

YOU: Let’s say four months.

ROBERT: I don’t know if I can give you that much time.

YOU: Okay. Can I ask you a question about that?


YOU: Is that your own deadline, the less-than-four-months one, or are you feeling like there’s going to be pressure from above to make a change more quickly?

ROBERT: I just don’t know. I’ve shared my concerns about you – about our working together, with Brett and Terry.

YOU: Well, do you want to shoot for four months? Obviously I’m going to be hitting the job search trail hard myself – I don’t want to wear out my welcome or put you in a bad situation.

ROBERT: I appreciate that. Four months is March first. Hopefully if you’re out there, you’ll be somewhere new before that.

YOU: I don’t know how you feel about the confidentiality thing, but if Brett and Terry knew I were looking –

ROBERT: Yes. Brilliant. They know everyone.

YOU: If you feel that four months is just too long, an alternative is to have me leave at whatever point before March and start a consulting job for you.

ROBERT: Brett, Terry and I actually talked about that last week.

YOU (startled, recovering): Fantastic. That’s appealing to me, too. If you could have someone in here and started in my role by then –

ROBERT: Let’s talk again next week. I appreciate the proactive move, YOU. You’ve been a huge contributor to this company and you’re here longer than me. I respect that experience.

YOU: Life is long, ROBERT. Who knows when all of our paths could cross again? Thank you for the open conversation. ROBERT: Same to you, Art.

Liz Ryan is CEO & Founder Human Workplace, a publishing, coaching & consulting firm whose mission to reinvent work for people. Visit them at http://www.humanworkplace to learn more about their12-week virtual coaching groups, face-to-face and long-distance one-on-one coaching and programs like Team Mojo™ and Customer Service with a Human Voice™ for organizations. Twitter: @humanworkplace

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