ambushes happen every day to employees. Here is how to overcome the
surprise and protect your economic well-being.
Enemy ambushes are something soldiers train to deal with. Ambushes are
often quite effective in warfare because they catch an opponent by
surprise and in a comprising location (called the "kill zone" by the
military). Because soldiers have no warning they are about to be fired
upon, they are often unprepared for the chaos that ensues. While your
office is probably not fatally dangerous, as an employee you may also
unwittingly find yourself in an ambush one day. In fact, ambushes happen
at work every day. No, we are not talking about workplace violence, but
rather an event that can potentially harm an employee's financial
well-being for years.
Given the economic turmoil workers have gone through since 2008 you've
probably witnessed, or been a victim of, an employment ambush. While not
deadly like a military ambush, an "employment ambush" can have devastating
effects on your finances if not handled quickly and aggressively.
Here is how an employment ambush typically goes. An employee is at his
work station completing his tasks, just as he always does, when a
supervisor, Human Resources representative, or both approaches. They will
ask the employee to stop working and follow them into an office or private
location. The company representative tells the unassuming employee that
his employment is being terminated and that he is to leave the premises
The employee had no idea this was about to happen. The day started off
like every other day. All his peers were doing their normal chores. His
supervisor hadn't given any indication at all that this news was coming.
Now with his income terminated, the employee is in an extremely vulnerable
position, economically speaking. What he does immediately after this event
is very important.
There are many different reactions that people demonstrate when getting
caught in an employment ambush, but fear is typically the most common. The
laid off employee has terrifying questions running through his mind. "How
will I take care of my kids?" "How am I going to tell my spouse?" "How
will I pay for my house or car?" "How will I ever find another job?"
As the employee agonizes over these and other concerns, he becomes
overwhelmed with fear. For someone who hasn't previously been through an
employment ambush he probably doesn't realize that becoming terrorized
with these thoughts is the absolute worst thing he can let happen. Fear
has a paralyzing effect on people. It stops them from rationally assessing
a situation and formulating a reasonable and effective plan of action to
overcome the adversity they are facing.
When you are told you have just lost your paycheck, you simply have no
time for fear. People who are fired or laid off should take the same
aggressive initiative soldiers take when caught in an ambush. You have to
put your fear aside for the moment and focus on your (economic) survival.
A better response.
You can imagine the fear a soldier caught in an enemy ambush might
experience. The military recognizes, that in this extreme situation, itís
perfectly natural to want to run away or hide. However, the military
teaches soldiers to put fear aside and immediately fight back in an
Here is how the Army says to manage an enemy ambush:
Soldiers in the kill zone immediately return fire, take up covered
positions, and throw fragmentation grenades or concussion and smoke
grenades. Immediately after the grenades detonate, soldiers in the kill
zone assault through the ambush using fire and movement.
The military does not say take a few days to calm down and collect your
thoughts, use the opportunity to take some much needed time off from the
daily grind, or debate with your friends why this is happening to you. The
same theory soldiers use for fending off an unexpected attack also applies
to regaining employment.
If you lose your job you should immediately go to work actively looking
for a new opportunity. In this instance, itís more important to stop the
bleeding, recover, and put yourself in position to find work that pays the
same or better, than to find work that you truly love. Lean on every
resource available to you. Don't dwell on fearful thoughts, rather fill
your mind with ideas on how to get back to work right away. That will let
you survive the event, minimize any economic or career damage, and come
About the author Mike Bowman
Mike writes for TheQuarterRoll.com, a website that makes small business
ownership and personal finance fun and entertaining through the stories of
real people. You can learn more about Mike on
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"Employment ambushes" happen every day to employees. If you lose
your job you should immediately go to work actively looking for a
new opportunity. Here is how to minimize the damage this kind of
ambush can cause.