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How managers are coping with being Fired at 50

How managers are coping with being Fired at 50
Senior managers who find it most difficult to adapt after being laid off in gloomy economic times are those that cant accept the loss in status and mourn their past glories, according to new research.
The most successful people who find themselves unexpectedly in the job market in their middle age are those that reinvent themselves according to academics who interviewed them as part of a research project.
Professor David Gray, of the University of Surreys School of Management, who took part in the research, said: Our research shows that a manager's psychological response to the trauma of unemployment and particularly the ability to be flexible is the key factor in whether they can turn their situation around or languish in the doldrums.
If a manager can come to terms with the loss of their past career, which is often very difficult but possible, they can begin the process of reinventing themselves.  Coaching may be a vital support in achieving this aim.
The two-year study found that executives and professionals who were most inclined to make the best of the situation and open to change fared better than those driven to regain their former status. The research from the Universities of Surrey and Bath shows that the way older managers make sense of a sudden job loss dramatically affects how they cope with the experience.  
The managers who took part in the research, aged 49 to 62, all held senior, high-earning positions. They lost their jobs in acrimonious circumstances and all felt deeply traumatised.
Academics at the University of Surrey including Harshita Goregaokar worked with Professor Yiannis Gabriel, of the University of Bath, in the study. They invited managers to talk to them about what had happened and discovered they had created different storylines or narrative coping strategies to make sense of their situation.
Those that coped most successfully were able to see the situation as a new chapter in their lives that included part-time work, self-employment, study and volunteering.
They were able to take a philosophical approach to their job loss, and had accepted that life may or may not return to what it was. They had redefined themselves outside of their former career status and the trauma of their unemployment. 
In contrast, a second group saw their job loss as the end of the line and believed their career was over. Although they saw themselves in a new post-career phase in their life, they were deeply wounded by their job loss and experienced profound despair, feelings of devastation and acute depression.
A final group coped somewhat better by viewing their situation as a temporary derailment of their career which would eventually return to its former glory.
Professor Gabriel, from the University of Baths School of Management, said: In the years and decades ahead were likely to find more and more successful professionals in late career confronting the reality of unemployment, vastly reduced income, power and status.
Our study shows that coaching can play a modest but significant part in helping these professionals to come to terms with their predicament. Importantly, effective coaches seem to help unemployed professionals redefine themselves.
Professionals are more likely to come to terms with unemployment if they can create a story which allows them to discover their voice as a person who is unemployed but whose identity is not defined by their unemployment.
The researchers interviewed a small group of men and women who were part of a government funded coaching scheme for older unemployed managers in the outset of the 2008 economic downturn. They were interviewed for around two hours and took part in focus groups and informal discussions.


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