Do's and Don'ts of laying someone off


  • Do meet in person, with two people present.
  • Have all paperwork & severance arrangements available
  • Have someone else cut off credit card/e-mail/dropbox/other login access at the start of the meeting.
  • Start the conversation by saying, "This is going to be a difficult conversation"
  • Keep it short. Own your words.
  • Plan a meeting before the workday begins. Minimize public exposure if necessary.
  • Allow employees to leave personal items. Come in with them over the weekend to clear out their space.
  • Make sure you allow time for questions related to references, exit coaching, unemployement, etc.
  • Offer exit coaching as a benefit.


  • Do it over e-mail or on the phone
  • Plan a meeting in advance for the rest of the in advance. They will catch on and begin speculating.
  • Allow questions related to performance.
  • Don't justify lacking performance with detailed examples.
  •  Don't create ambiguity over the rationale. Be clear and candid.

How to Negotiate a Raise

How to Negotiate a Raise

You and only you are in control of your career; this includes both your advancement and your salary. Generally speaking, you should plan on asking for a raise every 12 months. Second to your actual job performance, how you ask for a raise will be a major factor whether or not you have some extra spending money this year.

Before we get into the nitty gritty of how to ask for a raise, you need to consider if you deserve one. The answer should be yes. If it’s not, it may be time for a job change because there is a chance you may be fired. Okay, I might be taking that to an extreme, but the intentions is to force you to have more self-confidence. Every year, you are worth more. You are an asset which produces value. The time more time you spend in your job, the great the value of the asset, and you deserve the reap the rewards of this increased value. Now that we’ve made that clear, it’s time to dig in. 

Answer this question: “How do you justify your raise?”

This is the most important question to consider before asking for a raise. Your justification should be based on future value, rather than financial or emotional (“I deserve it”) need. 

Ground your request in value added and when possible, articulate this value in dollars contributed towards the growth of the company. Use your performance in the past 6-12 months as an indicator of your performance to come in the upcoming year. As you generate more dollars in the form of revenue or cost-savings, you deserve a piece of the pie.

Request the meeting. 

Remember, you are in control and it’s up to you to initiate the conversation. 

“I’d like to talk to you about my performance this past year and where I am headed this year”

Let’s get to some tactics. First, 2-3 weeks ahead of time ask your boss to set aside some time to talk about your performance and compensation. Give him 2-3 specific time slots and put it on the calendar. This point cannot be stressed enough. By getting it on the calendar you are ensuring that your boss takes some time to consider your performance, mostly so he is not blindsided by your request.

Next, 2-3 days before the meeting send a rough agenda. It should be as simple as this.


Hi  _______,
I am looking forward to talking to you next Wednesday. Here are some of the items that I would love to talk about.

1. Things I am doing well that I should continue to focus on.
2. Things I can do to advance myself professionally.
3. My current and future compensation

I thought it would help to share a rough outline with you ahead of time. I trust and value your input, and am looking forward to making this a regular conversation.


Prep for game time.

The meeting is around the corner. The stage has been set, and you have primed yourself and your boss for a great conversation.

Now it is just a matter of execution. Three things to keep in mind the day of...

  1. You are in control of this conversation, act like it.
  2. Your boss experiences this conversation quite frequently, and is actually very comfortable talking to you about it.
  3. It is normal to ask for a raise.

Start by thanking your boss for his time. Express that you value his input and want this type of interaction to be ongoing. Then get to the first two agenda items – Start by sharing some things you have been focused on, and solicit feedback in areas where you know that positive results have been observed. It is easy to let this type of conversation skew to the negative “things I can do better,” try to avoid this. You don’t want to focus on areas of improvement right before you ask for a raise.

Shift the conversation to talk about your trajectory. Don’t talk about working for another company or starting your own. Focused on growth within your current company. If your trajectory in uncertain, now is a great time to solicit some constructive feedback from your superiors. The point is to demonstrate your commitment to the enterprise.

Make the ask. 

 It’s time. You’ve had a positive conversation with your boss and have primed him for discussion of your compensation. Now it’s time to make your request. 

Here is a great sentence starter:

Based on my performance over the last year, and my continued growth and commitment towards [company name], I wanted to see if you are willing to be my advocate in asking for a raise. Are you willing to be my advocate?

Notice what you just did, you asked a yes-able question. You asked a question that is easy to say yes to. You also made the conversation easier for your boss, because typically he is not the decision maker. He needs to talk to his boss, the board, HR, etc. to get approval.

Once he agrees to being your advocate, ask about best next steps. Usually, he will need some time. He may also ask for what type of raise you are seeking. I recommend asking for a 3-6% raise, getting you closer to the next $5,000 increment. This is in the realm of possibility. If you are early in your career, you could occasionally ask for a 10% raise – but this is only when your contributions are extreme significant and you can be clearly demonstrated.

General Tips

  • Don’t gossip about your request with co-workers. This is equivalent to shooting yourself in the foot.
  • Be Conscious of Time – During the meeting it is easy to get caught up in the first two agenda items, leaving little to no time to talk about your raise.
  • Send a follow-up email the same day summarizing your conversation. Establish a clear a timeline with clear next steps.
  • What if they just say no? Well – this happens. Then ask another yes-able question: “Are you willing to meet again in three months to discuss this again?” If they say no, then you should consider this as a signal that you should begin looking for other jobs.
  • Why ask for a raise?
  • Well there is this little things called inflation, which is slowly diminishing the value of your earned dollar. This is happening at a historically low rate (2-3%), but this means that your spending power is decreasing steadily. At a minimum, you should be eligible to receive a 2-3% raise each year. If you are not, it is equivalent to making less money each year.
  • Young professionals have the least experience asking for a raise, but because of compounding interest, raises early in a career matter a ton. A $1,000 raise at the age of 25 has approximately $100,000 in compounded lifetime earnings.
  • If you work with a career coach, ask for their support in how to best ask for a raise.


How to: Kick ass in your first month in your new job!

So you just landed your dream job (or a job on your way to your dream job)! How do you manage yourself to make sure the first month is a success. Here are 7 things you can do to do well in your first month in your new job.

Ask High Quality Questions (in batches)

In your first week take in as much as you can – and get more by asking high quality questions.  
Take the time to learn about the existing structures and processes. It also helps to ask questions in batches. Set up structures & meeting times for you to ask your questions. Don’t be a tapper – you know, the person who is constantly tapping people on the shoulder. Learn the cultural norms. If headphones are in does that mean do not disturb? Who is OK with you asking questions? It helps to set up time with your direct manager for the explicit purpose of you asking all your questions in rapid fire. Consider the following structure to get enough support. All these meetings should be less than 20 minutes.

  • Week 1: Check-in close to every day (for 10-20 mins)
  • Week 2: Check-in Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Week 3: Check-in Tuesday and Thursday,
  • Week 4: Check-in 1-2 per week ongoing

2. Make assumptions & take risks
In your first month you will be forgiven for not knowing something. So make assumptions and push forward. Typically, organizations favor action over inaction. Just get it done! Make mistakes.

3. Grit and Ask
When you get stuck with something spend no more than 20 minutes trying to figure it out. This number used to be 30, but I think organizations expect too much in their first month for you to be wasting your time for that long. Take these as challenges that will help you hone your sense of grit.

4. Demonstrate Humble and Cautious Confidence
Just because you are the newbie doesn’t mean you are not valuable, but remember to respect the existing culture and authorities.

5. Be above average
Because you are learning you are going to need to work above average, but be wise; co-workers may not always appreciate the newbie who works late and comes in early. Plan on arriving early once a week and staying late once per week. You should be working harder because you need to spend more time in your day learning – the extra time is just to get you caught up.

6. Ask for feedback on Thursdays
Each Thursday for your first month ask for specific and actionable feedback. This is frequent enough that you should get some quality feedback, but not too frequent as to be annoying. Be prepared to ask good questions that will prompt good responses. Take notes during this conversation.

7. Add to the culture
In weeks 3-4 take some time to consider how you can actually add value to the existing culture. Each time an employee is added or removed the company culture changes slightly, it is a new team. This is especially true of small companies. Consider small ways you can add value and share something about who you are outside of work.

Should you quit?

In the last 30 days, how many days have you considered quitting your job?

None - If you never consider quitting, you may not be spending enough time considering your trajectory and reflecting. The modern economy expects you to advance yourself, sometimes by leaving your current employer.

1-2 days – This is a great place to be in. It means you are generally happy with your job and your prospects for advancement. You may or may not give time to consider other jobs or companies where you may be happier, contribute more, and get more value.

3-5 days – Still normal, but you should monitor it. Take action to change something about your work environment. Often time a small 5% chance can help you get out of this rut. How can you re-allocate just 5% of your week (that’s about 2 hours a week). You want to course correct soon before your feelings get worse. Consider this as your inner voice sending you a warning signal. Take action by refocusing your efforts, taking on a new assignment, modifying your schedule, and evaluating what is causing you to have this feeling.

6-15 days – Ok, now you are getting to a point where a more significant shift is in need, especially if you are on a path where the number of times you are thinking about it is a constant distraction from your day. Start exploring shifts you can make within your current employer. You probably need to make a 10-20% change to cause this number to chance. This means changing what you do 4-8 hours during the week. This could be a significant new endeavor, or a shift in your job. It costs lots of money and time when someone quits their job, so most large employers would rather you stay but shift your function internally.

16-29 days – Too far – This means you have probably gone too long without action, or your small % shifts have not helped. If you are in this position you should consider internal job changes, and begin beefing up your resume and LinkedIn for external viewing. You may want to share this with some trusted mentors. You want to put the idea if you quitting out into the world to see if something comes back to you. Ideally, you would have your next job lined up. Here, you are starting this process. You should spend about 2 months putting these indicators into the world.

30 days – If you think about quitting every single day you are not alone. Many people do the same thing. The important thing is to not do this for too long, 6+ months, because it will undoubtedly impact other parts of your life. It may be best to share this with your spouse so he or she can prepare for you to quit your job. You should be aggressively networking and job hunting for new opportunities, with or without the knowledge of your current employer. Thinking about quitting 30 out of 30 days is a very clear warning that you are not in an environment where you can thrive.

Utilizing your network to find a new job

Trust is a result of authenticity. In order to leverage your network to attain introduction to prospective employers, you must create trust.

Let's assume you have set up a coffee or lunch date with someone in your network who has a connection that you want. This conversation needs to be much more than an exchange.

You want to turn this person into your advocate. At a minimum expect to have 3-4 interactions with him or her over the next two months, possibly more. Don't expect any intros immediately during or after the first interaction.

1. Appreciation/Acknowledge the situation - The start could be a super awkward if not done right - you can control that! So take control of the meeting. Appreciate his or her time, appreciate their willingness to support you. Acknowledge that he or she is taking the time from her day to help you.

2. Context/History - very clearly and concisely explain where you are at in your career. 
"This is what I love about my job _________, I want to do more of that in another company"
"I add the most value by _______, I want to do more of that in another company"
On the call focus on the things about you that position you to add value to a company.

3. Questions - Does this person in your network have specific experiences you want to ask about? These should be real questions (not questions just for questions sake, if you don't have questions you should wait to have the call until you do)

4. Reciprocate - Specifically ask how you can help him or her now or in the future. What are his/her needs?

5. Action - Always end it with appreciation and some sort of next action step. In this case I would bypass my usually recommendation of "Is there anyone in your personal or professional network you think I would benefit from getting to know" because that is the focus of your conversation. You could end it with, "Can I take some time to research some of the areas we talked about - and follow up with you mid-next week, most likely asking for an introduction"

Stuck in your industry?

Here are three tips to help you break out to see more opportunity.

Industry career themes are harder to break out of. It is what you know, what is safe and what you are used to. As you stay in your industry long enough it becomes harder and harder to leave.

Developing a set of knowledge within a specific industry opens your eyes to other opportunities and problems in that industry, making it more likely you stay in that industry and continuing your trajectory. If you are trying to break out of your industry theme know that other are looking to hear three things.

1. Intentionally network outside your current industry
Look for opportunities to network with people outside your comfort zone. If you are in healthcare, go network with people in the travel industry. If you are in education, go to a athletic or sports related networking event. Be intentional about attending events outside of your industry.

2. Look at your coworkers’ backgrounds using LinkedIn
While you coworkers may have a bias against other industries, some of them still have networks from prior jobs. Take time to explore their linkedin and see who has a rich set of experiences in an industry you are interested in. Because you have taken the time to get to know them, and have potentially built an internal advocate relationship with them, they are likely to be your supporter and open their network to you.

3. Talk about other industries with family and friends
Usually when you are stuck in an industry your personal network and family are outside of the industry. Leverage them to get perspective.

By networking, leveraging your co-workings, and talking with family and friends you can broaden your horizon of opportunities. The next step, where the real fun begins, is exploring how can you bring you knowledge from your prior industry to a new industry.

3 Tips to Build Mastery and Increase Job Satisfaction

If you enjoy the work you are doing, you are more likely to continue to learn, grow, and develop your sense of mastery. The reverse is also true: when you develop a sense of mastery, it’s a clear sign you enjoy the work you are doing. It is a self-perpetuating cycle.

For some people this self-perpetuating cycle is great. As you progress in your career you increase your professional satisfaction, making it more likely you learn more and advance faster.

However, there are usually two issues that may arise. By working those 60-70 hour weeks with lots of help of Google, you advanced up the learning curve very fast, much faster than previous generations.

You also may have hit an ungoogleable block in your career which is difficult or impossible to overcome. Rapid advancement up the learning curve or ungoogleable skills can both lead to stagnation, which breaks the mastery <-> satisfaction cycle. Once the cycle breaks satisfaction turns into dissatisfaction.
Here are three ways you get yourself back on a positive mastery & satisfaction loop?

Slow down and focus on deep mastery.

Most young professionals fool themselves into thinking they have achieved mastery - 6-months of great sales as a sales rep does not mean you have mastered sales. Slow down and focus on learning more.

Spend at least 5% of your week learning.

Some of this may be in your workplace, some may be on your own. By spending just 5% of your week learning the other 95% will feel great, and you can prevent that professional unrest from sounding an internal alarm. This time can be used preparing for your next career.

Expand & look for cross-industry applications

Network with different types of people in different industries. Use this new network to talk about ideas where you can apply your knowledge to their industry. Not only is this a meaningful dialog, it can spark original ideas and learning you can bring back to your company.

6 Ways to Keep Your Co-Worker Relationships Going After You are Gone

If you are young and in love (with your current employer) it is likely that you perceive some of your co-workers as friends or at least professional colleagues. But all things come to an end, and whether it is you or them that leave first, your relationship will experience some strain once the carpet is pulled out. Here are some ways you can continue to keep those relationships going.

Talk to them about keeping it going

Your co-worker relationship is going to change. The basis for it, the topics you talk about and the schedule, has been altered. First, tell them that you value them, the relationship you have, and ask them if they are willing to put in the time and energy to keep it going.

Share achievements        

A great way to stay in touch is to send a note when something good happens. This is great to do with people you want to keep in touch with, but are not checking-in with regularly.

Share meals

Plan to share a meal every so often. It can be spontaneous or set up. It is a great idea to set up a schedule for yourself, say, once a month or every other month for people you really care about.

Radar checks

For some prior coworkers you can keep tabs by checking-in on them on a quarterly basis. Some are better than others at actually doing this. Set up a recurring reminder on your calendar, and at some point that week drop a check note with some sort of question.

Spontaneous e-mails and call

Hey Joanne – I wanted to call and just say hello. I was thinking of you the other day when I went to the food trucks and wanted to see how your family is doing?

Scan and Connect

Introduce your old network to your new network by connecting and introducing people. A great way to do this is with a brief email to both parties. In the subject say “Jason <meet> Jesse”. In your email provide a one sentence summary of who each person is, and if you are extra attentive, you can hyperlink to LinkedIn. Establish the reason you are making the introduction. It may be personal or hobby based, it may be a value add relationship.

If your company offers exit coaching as a benefit, and you are the recipient, work with your career coach to create a detailed list of colleagues you want to remain close with. They can be helpful when you are looking for a new job.



The risky business of job hunting while you are employed

So you have made the decision to quit your job. What now?
The best possible scenario is to line up your next gig before you quit.
The second best is the line it up but to take a 1-2 month break before you start.

Quitting before you have a new job is risky business. For the young and inexpensive it is doable, but it is a financially and career irresponsible decision.

There are also some other advantages to being an employed job seeker.

One of the advantages to having a job when you are hunting is leverage. You have leverage with both – your old company and your potentially new company. This leverage gives you the ability negotiates your terms for your new job. It also can give you a step up in position and salary relative to your old employer.

The biggest fear of most employed job seekers is their employer will find out. For some reason this is categorized in the same way as cheating in a relationship or espionage. Employers and managers all will react different if they find out. Sure, there are plenty of managers that would support you in your transition. But beware; your manager may be your advocates, but they are not your mentor. They still have the best interest of the company in mind, and if you leaving is not in the company’s best interest, they will most likely be pretty upset. This is especially true if they have invested time in developing you as an asset of the company.

When you are employed job seeker here are some things you can do to network, find a new job, and protect your current position.

Shut your trap – Don’t gossip about this at work, even to people you “trust”. Remember, the basis for your professional relationships is work. As much as it feels like you are great friends, and share meals together, they are your co-worker and may react in surprisingly counterproductive ways.
Stay positive – When talking about your current job and the reasons for leaving, focus on you, rather than the drawbacks of your job. Focus on how it is the best decision for you to move forward with your career.
Ask for confidentiality – When you are networking and interviewing ask to keep the process confidential, as you don’t want this to disrupt the course of business at your current employer.
Network with your Advocates – By now you should have a few people outside of the company that are your advocates. If not, it is a great time to develop some. The job search process is one where it feels great to help people.
Your time, your computer – When you are doing your job search you should be doing thi son your time on your computer. This includes interviews. Most companies will schedule early morning job interviews or during lunch to accommodate you. Respect your current employer and your obligation to them by conducting your business on your own time.
Be Honest – Don’t lie if you are ask about it, or confronted. Confrontation can be avoided by keeping your work quality high, dressing as you normally do, and keeping a normal schedule. But if you are asked about your “loyalty”, be honest. In return for this honesty, ask for their discretion and support during the process. 

Internal Advocates & External Mentors

Your boss is not your mentor. 

I don’t believe that you can truly have a “mentor” in your company. You may have a boss who has mentorship like qualities, but let’s be clear, they are your boss. And even the best bosses may struggle doing what is in the best interest for the company vs. what is in the best interest for you. While you are employed the best you can do is develop a group of internal advocates, which can be incredibly valuable.

While you are an employee take time to develop internal advocates

Your company is a vast collection of individual experiences, competencies, ideas, approaches, and advice. Tapping into this wisdom provides you with paths for advancement within and outside your organization.

Internal Advocates are the people that would go to bat for you in tough situations, sing your praises when you do well, and recommend you for projects or advancement when the needs arise. You most likely would do the same for them. One day, once you have parted ways, some of these internal advocates may turn into lifetime mentors.

The key difference between internal advocates and mentors is the presence of bias. Employees in the same company are biased. This bias may be insignificant, but they still have a duty and a responsibility to the organization.

Take time to develop internal advocates

When you first join a company your goal should be to develop relationships with one superior and one peer. Then turn this relatioship into one of advocacy. The superior does not need to be your boss, just anyone with some pull. It still should be a genuine relationship, rather than strategically designed. Take a few months to see if there is anyone you click with.

The best way to turn a co-worker into an advocate is to do a great job and help them do their job better, but don’t be the person who achieves greatness by being a workaholic, this just increases the pressure for everyone. Here are some more tips to turn a co-working relationship into one of advocacy.

  • Genuinely sing their praises often.
  • Ask for advice, and take the advice.
  • When you get advice, write it down right then. It shows them you are actually listening and care.
  • Communicate frequently your successes and failures.
  • Turn informal lunches into regular weekly check-ins.
  • Let them confide in you, and in return, confide in them.
  • Don’t talk office gossip or drama.
  • Give them honest and great feedback, but ask their permission before you do so.
  • This sounds very much like a mentor-mentee relationship, with one important distinction. Your internal advocate has a duty and responsibility towards the company, and not to you. It may feel like you come first at times.

Here are some things not do it:

  • Don’t be disingenuous
  • Don’t go around telling people they are your advocate or mentor.
  • Don’t use what they share with you to advance yourself (unless they give you permission)

When they leave or you leave the company (by quitting, layoff, another opportunity, retirement, etc.) you need to take some time to rekindle the relationship and reestablish your norms of your community. Your weekly lunch is not going to happen. This break is just a change in habit. Take some time (2-4 weeks) to let new habits form, then reach out and set up a specific time to share a meal. If your company offers exit coaching as a benefit, ask your coach for ideas on how to keep these relationships going.

The change is also a disruption in your topics of conversation. If the departure was negative it may be uncomfortable for you or them to talk about the company. Thus, you will need new things to talk about. Consider bringing your topics up a notch, and talk about bigger items such as career goals, skill recommendation, networking.

Pretty soon your internal advocate is now your mentor.