To some extent, we all come to depend on our bosses for direction, problem solving, and inspiration. And while some bosses are inevitably better than others, it can be a jolting experience when the big man or woman of the office is laid off or fired. Plus, there is no question that the power vacuum left behind can mean major disruption and performance hits for days or weeks after the fact as everyone struggles to adapt to the new environment. However, amongst the turmoil there are a few steps that can help you keep calm and carry on.
The very first step is to follow the timeless advice offered up by Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: Don’t Panic. The first reaction by many people when they find out their long-time boss has been let go is to panic. This is probably due to the fear that if the boss has been fired, it could also happen to anyone else. Panic due to fear of potential job loss can lead to work mess-ups and general anxiety. But the reality of the situation is that, more than likely, the reason your boss got fired had nothing to do with you. And even if your company is on a firing spree, the worst thing you can do for your job performance and professional reputation is to panic under pressure.
Even if you can’t completely quiet your nerves internally, try to appear calm and collected as you work to make yourself visible to the remaining management. With your boss gone, it is likely that members of senior management without a real understanding of what you do will be observing how you work and what you accomplish. But since you and your team are being watched so carefully, take the opportunity to show the high-ranking officers your value to the company. In other words, reintroduce yourself: show up early, stay later, remain positive, and work hard. Additionally, you can volunteer for projects, take the initiative and introduce your own ideas, or at least take some time to clear out your cluttered inbox. Anything you can do to show your dedication is worth the effort.
If the day your boss was escorted off the grounds was cause for celebration among the rank-and-file, try to resist the temptation to gossip and spread your personal negative feelings around the office. Rumors travel fast and with the extra attention being received by the higher-ups, going on a boss-bashing tirade is a very bad idea. Instead, use your time more wisely and show off your professionalism by focusing on your job and remaining positive. Your behavior during a time of management shake-up will either negatively or positively affect your reputation as a dedicated and professional employee deserving of a spot in your company’s workforce.