Managers get laid off, too

By Dan Carrison

There has always been a perception on the part of the rank and file that management is self-perpetuating and able to circle the wagons in times of economic downturn. The “restructuring” initiatives that justify laying off the worker bees seem to come as no surprise to their managers who hand out the pink slips. The departing employees sense that their supervisors had an ear to the ground, knew what was coming and had time to scramble into an unaffected division – or had relationships with senior managers who shielded them from the consequences of reorganization.

But, in fact, managers are laid off all the time. It’s early in the year, but already Bloomberg is reporting that Walmart intends to let go of 3,500 co-managers in 2018. Last year, CSX Corp. reduced its management corps by 1,000, according to Transport Topics, while Bed Bath & Beyond found it necessary to eliminate 880 management positions, reported HFN Digital News.

Managers are quite as vulnerable to termination as any other employee. Perhaps more so, as stripping away layers of bureaucracy has long been recognized as a cost-cutting measure. A distin­guished work record is no protection. We all know of dedicated managers who have been let go. And eventually, an organization we have served loyally may not be able to return the favor.

Here are three tips from the experts that can help us prepare for that contin­gency.

First, embrace the possibility. Consultant Susan Heathfield suggests adopting a state of mind that might seem counterintuitive to a naturally optimistic person: “Live your life as if each day is the last day of your employment.” Lest you think this kind of attitude could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, her advice is really quite positive. She recommends we use our premonition as a source of energy and become more active in the world around us by vigorously participating in profes­sional associations, doing volunteer work in our communities, monitoring and contributing to social media sites like LinkedIn, Google+,, Facebook and Twitter, and lunching frequently with friends from other companies and even from other industries.

These are things we should be doing anyway. Instead, we often identify so strongly with the companies we serve that we become oblivious to the possi­bilities that exist outside, in society.

Second, build your personal brand.

Chris Dessi, vice president of sales for Performline Inc., recalls when he realized that his reputation was too localized. “The only person who knew how good I was at my job was my boss.”

So Dessi began to write a blog; his practical and seasoned advice on profes­sional selling caught the attention of other senior managers, and soon he began fielding job offers at considerably higher compensation packages. Article writing for professional journals and even self-published books also add to one’s credibility.

Another way to expand your reputation is through public speaking. The program chairpersons of service clubs and profes­sional associations are in constant search of weekly luncheon presenters. Once on the “rubber chicken circuit,” you will begin to make a name for yourself throughout the business community, independent of the organization you currently serve – and that’s what building a personal brand is all about.

And finally, begin freelancing.

Entrepreneur Melanie Pinola stresses the importance of maintaining a part-time job through freelancing, simul­taneous with full-time employment. We all have services to render, and the freelance market has grown consid­erably as companies show a preference for assigning projects to independent contractors. The psychological boost of having a second life can be empowering.

In Pinola’s case, one gig led to another and then another before snowballing into a full-time enterprise.

Good advice from all to help us better manage the uncertain future.

Dan Carrison, a business writer and consultant, has authored or co-authored four management books. Carrison is a general partner of Semper Fi Consulting and founder of He also teaches corporate communication for the University of La Verne. He can be reached at