silence from manager after layoff

A reader writes:

I was recently laid off. My boss works in a different office and was not there for the layoff. The SVP who was there told me that my boss wanted to have a conversation with me about the situation. It has now been over a week and I have not heard from her. It is my understanding that the onus is on her to contact me since she presumably had to make the decision about my employment and was then not there to follow through. Am I supposed to contact her?

Contact her if you feel like contacting her; otherwise, you’re under no obligation to do so. However, it’s probably worth your while to reach out because she may be able to point you toward job leads or act as a reference for you in the future.

My suspicion is that your boss knows that talking to you directly about the layoff is the right thing to do, but has chickened out of what she feels will be an awkward or difficult conversation. This is lame and she sucks as a result, but you should still exploit whatever help she can offer you.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 3 comments… read them below }

  1. HR Maven*

    Could I offer a slightly modified take? Is it possible that the SVP stumbled? If your manager is a good person until the point, is it possible that your SVP offered the line about your manager in an effort to help end the conversation? Some people don’t handle these situations as well as others. Also, other factors might be involved – vacation, illness, etc.

    If you were my employee and someone else let you go, I would def want to connect with you but you don’t know what was communicated back to your manager (unless you were there).

    Extend the benefit of the doubt, reach out to her and ask for help in finding new employment or at least a reference.

    Good luck!

  2. Anonymous*

    I am the original poster and wanted to thank both AAM and HR Maven for their responses. I have definitely been struggling with this because while a layoff is not the same as being fired, I still feel that I was singled out (I was the only person in our office location that was let go). A few weeks back when I had a meeting with my boss she had expressed that she thought I was doing a great job and wanted to transition me to a new position after January. Because this conversation was so recent, it is the main source of my hesitation for contacting her. I also feel awkward and embarrassed.

    Despite all this, I do agree that I should reach out to her to see if she would at least be a reference. Thanks again!

  3. Anonymous*

    Wow! You’ve just been handed a golden opportunity on a silver platter!

    Your manager is probably feeling terrible about this and is fearing your anger and/or tears. It’s beside the point why you were the one shown the door. The decision is made and the ball’s in your court. Play it!

    Call and say: ‘I know we talked about a new position in January but I also know these are interesting times and things change. I want to thank you for your confidence in me and all the help you’ve given me in developing my skills and advancing my career.’

    Give her several instances where she’s been helpful and what you’ve learned. Write them down before you call, as this is an emotionally difficult situation and you may have a momentary memory lapse.

    Tell her you have great memories of the place (says you’ve moved on without bitterness- the professional equivalent of ‘we’ll always be friends’) and then ask if she has any advice to offer in your job hunt- strengths and weaknesses, what might be a good fit elsewhere- that sort of thing.

    Her relief in your attitude should be huge and she’ll very likely feel grateful and will make an effort to help you.

    In a stumbling economy, an ex-boss who thinks of you fondly is a real asset- lucky you!

    Now go sketch out a script and practise your lines!

    And if she’s afraid to take your call? E-mail with “Good-bye and thank you so much” and follow the script!

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