I believe that being let go can be a good thing with proper hindsight. It taught me to be stronger. It taught me what kind of employee and coworker I need and should be. It taught me resilience and it taught me to use my network, stay positive and hustle. Today’s blog is a letter to my former boss who “fired/downsized/let me go” from one of my previous roles.
I was 29. I was a media supervisor in a mid-sized advertising agency. I was stressed. I was overworked. I was depressed and I was blunt and at times very short to coworkers. I was scared. I was struggling through life. I was focused. I was ambitious. I was efficient and well-liked by clients. I was many different things and I believed I could never be fired. I believed I was indispensable. After I was let go I spent days questioning everything from my role, to conversations with coworkers, my work output, etc but in the end and 3 years later I can objectively look at the positive lessons I learned from the experience and be grateful for having gone through the experience.
Dear Managing Director,
Thank you for letting me go. I needed to learn this valuable lesson in my career and I never would have, had you not chosen to let me go. While I am thanking you now I couldn’t at the time. Two weeks before you chose to let me go I had the worst family emergency I have ever had to go through with my ex-fiancée. I was lost in my personal world of stress. I was highly depressed and scared. I’m sure your decision to let me go was made before this family emergency. You had no way of knowing what I was going through. But this amplified the devastation I went through.
The way that I was let go was less than optimal. You asked me to put in a full day of work writing down my knowledge of accounts onto paper so you would have the background to run them after I’d gone. I know now that a courteous way of letting employees go is done in the morning before they settle into a work day. I’m glad I’ve learned that if I ever need to let someone go how I would want to be treated and show them that courtesy.
I left the office in shock. I poured my heart and soul into making the 15 or so accounts I was working on happy and well taken care of. I had little to no supervision. I was able to teach myself how to be autonomous in my position and I excelled at it. I was so lucky that I learned leadership that way and was proud of the fact that I had zero client complaints.
When I was let go, HR mentioned there were complaints against my demeanour by coworkers. These had never been brought to my attention formally (only mentioned once in passing) and I wasn’t ever taken through an action plan on how I could improve my communication skills or mannerisms with coworkers. This however taught me that I would need to do some self-development reading while I was unemployed to teach myself new skills. I’m grateful that I was able to sit back and examine how I may have been perceived so I could teach myself what not to do in the future. I was able to become introspective on my communication style and learned how to become softer around the edges vs. blunt and brusque which had become my style due to stress and too many clients. While I’m not making excuses for my actions I am able to explain how it all came to be and how I learned to never let that happen again in my life no matter what I was going through or how much work stress was piled on.
I learned gratitude for having a job. I learned to be thankful to have a pay cheque because it can be taken away from you so easily. When I was hired 2 months later by another advertising agency I went into my role with such gratitude and thanks that I know it was evident. I was eager to make a mark there. I was eager to please and I was eager to work on how I interacted with coworkers and clients. Being let go humbled me and I needed to learn that lesson.
Thank you for all the lessons learned. I wouldn’t be the strong woman I am today without having gone through this. I wouldn’t have set out on a new career path and be on the client-side now in a dream marketing job that satisfies my career ambitions. I wouldn’t have gone after my dream career or found personal passions that fuel my fire daily and give me happiness. If I hadn’t had to go through both personal and professional crises at the same time I wouldn’t be who I am today. Thank you for letting me go and teaching me the confidence I needed to learn to succeed.
“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford