In The Workplace

I am a 55-year-old department manager at a medium-size corporation who was laid off after 23 years with the company, which resorted to retrenchment. The company paid my separation benefits which are not enough for my family in these uncertain times. Could you help me assess my options? — Emotional Nucleus.

The Economic Times had a recent article, “Laughter at the Time of Novel Coronavirus: People are coping with Humour in Times of Crisis.” I find it applicable to your case and to every individual who is a “victim” of unemployment, which many organizations are resorting to during the crisis: “Even as scientists across the world race against time and each other to find a remedy for the novel coronavirus pandemic, those who endorse the bromide that laughter is the best medicine are pulling no punch lines to provide diversions from the seriousness of the situation, even if it’s only jest for a moment.

“Doing the rounds on social media is a pastiche of the Beatles’ ‘I wanna hold your hand’ with the repurposed refrain, ‘I gotta wash my hands,’ which seems to bring a spot of therapeutic cheer to all those having a hard day’s night of lockdown.

“And in a risible riff on the lonely hearts club band, a spoof on an agony column ad purports to be from a “Single man with toilet rolls (who) would like to meet a single woman with hand sanitizer for good clean fun.”

This is not to make light of your personal circumstances, but to emphasize that there’s always a rainbow after the rain or there’s always the sun after the rain. Indeed, there’s hope for us and it’s only a matter of time before we finally see the light. In the meantime, let’s find solace to the following questions that could help you assess your options in the future.

It’s one of the fundamental rules of life. When something isn’t going right, you only have to ask some basic questions before making a decision. Assess the situation if your plan is not turning the way you plan it. If COVID-19 has ruined your plans and that of your organization, change the way you do things.

The key point here is to try one way, then another, then still another until you find what works. Don’t give up. There are many paths to success.

Sometimes, it turns out that a failure can even present greater opportunities. Therefore, if a door closes, try another door. Even better, try a window of opportunity. Here are some questions that you can ask yourself in assessing your chances for success:

One, at your age, can you get another job elsewhere? As you can imagine, there’s not much hope unless you’re willing to accept much lower pay somewhere outside of the industry. That’s assuming you’ve not signed a non-compete agreement with your past employer.

Two, would you be willing to consider entrepreneurship? It’s one of the most likely solutions to your current issue. Study it carefully. However, don’t spend much of your precious capital. Continue to be frugal. Instead, use all the available resources at hand.

Three, how big is your network of friends and colleagues? Whichever option you take — employment or entrepreneurship, start with your own circle, either as a potential employer or customer. If not, seek the help of your classmates in high school or college.

Four, Are you confident you can serve as a management consultant? Do you have what it takes? How credible are you to your potential clients? Would you be willing to supply your services for free, at least in the meantime?

Five, could you work as a volunteer for non-profit organizations? It could help open doors and windows for you. Whatever happens, you can even widen your circle of friends while at the same time keep busy as you share your management expertise.

Six, would you be willing to sell insurance or pre-need medical plans? This could be your last resort if you’re the type of person too shy to take up selling. But somehow, you should be inspired to know that some of my friends are earning well from this.

Seven, how about seeking office starting at the barangay level? Don’t laugh. At least not yet. When you don’t have many options and you have exhausted many opportunities, consider an elective or appointive office at a local government unit.

Eight, what hobby can you turn into an income? What talent can you monetize? How about painting? Photography? Or how about writing?

Start from where you are. And improve on your craft by learning from others.

Nine, is your word sincere and golden? To put it in another way, can you go the extra mile in helping others or demonstrating your commitment to deliver as promised? If not, better enjoy your retirement with your grandchildren.

Ten, do you really like working and value relationships with people? Humans are flesh and blood. Your friendship with them is your greatest asset. But only if they’re honest.

Remember, you cannot get honesty with a lot of people, but at least you can choose who to retain.

We Filipinos are good in turning crisis into an occasion for jokes, many of them unwarranted, if only to alleviate the situation. Let’s be clear about it though. Jokes are Band-Aid solutions. They’re not intended to solve our problems, nor will they help discover an effective vaccine against COVID-19.

To be successful as a manager, during employment and after retirement, you must be able to build lasting relationships with people — first with your workers and bosses and then your customers. The payoff to creating true relationships is obvious. Give trust and you’ll earn trust.

It’s better than watching your back all the time. That’s an intelligent risk for us to take.

It seems simple, right? But why do managers do this? That’s because building relationships takes a lot of time. If you’ve not been successful with it during your active corporate years, then forget it. But all is not lost. You can build relationships with new people somewhere.

It’s not necessary to build personal friendship, but only to develop a good working relationship. That’s the best thing you can do.


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