An age-old problem

How do I keep my cool while being ‘managed out’? How do I ensure my firm doesn’t short-change me? And what does the future hold?


QUESTION 1

I have been a partner at a regional firm for several years and am admittedly probably entering the final stage of my career. However, I was recently surprised to realise that the firm is trying to manage me out.

I hadn’t expected to be in this situation for at least another five years. How do I handle it? I am angry that my peers could do this, but also worried both about being short-changed by the firm and also my prospects elsewhere.

ANSWER 1

Life just never goes how you want it to, does it? There you were, expecting a comfortable coast into retirement on your terms paid for by the sweat of your colleagues and they go and stab you in the back.

That you and the firm could be on such different pages is telling of a fundamental lack of self-awareness on your part, I’m afraid. Commercial reality dawns eventually for everyone and it’s often a bit of a nasty surprise (they wouldn’t be managing you out if you were really pulling your weight).

Rather than railing at them, you should be thanking them for giving you the wake-up call you obviously need. The way to handle it is with grace and humility, and to seek a carefully planned transition that gives you a soft landing while you figure out what to do next.

Getting angry will get you nowhere. Resist the impulse to throw your toys out of the pram and drive a good, commercial deal for yourself. Play nicely now and they’ll be begging you to come back for a lucrative consultancy the moment they’re overstretched.

Mark Brandon is a partner at First Counsel

ANSWER 2

Unfortunately this is a reality in a number of firms so don’t take it personally. Negotiate a fair and reasonable departure on amicable terms and don’t be too worried about prospects elsewhere as the regional market is still relatively buoyant. However, be focused on what work, clients or contacts you can take with you.

Jason Webb is a consultant at Laurence Simons

ANSWER 3

You are in a somewhat unenviable position and it is easy in this sort of situation to let emotions cloud your judgement. Try to remain clear-headed and evaluate where you stand without letting your disappointment with your fellow partners get in the way.

The first thing to do is get the facts straight. What has caused this to occur? Speak to someone senior in the partnership, off the record initially if it’s easier. Is it a strategic decision based on, for example, a refocusing of the firm’s strategy? If so, the simplest solution is to take your clients and find a firm that will accommodate you. If your business plan adds up, there should be plenty of those.

If it is purely an age-related issue, your choice is to get ready to fight a discrimination case (with the attendant uncertainty, cost and hassle that would involve) or accept that the firm is culturally not the right place for you and, again, look at the market. You will have a wealth of experience to offer, so get in touch with a partner specialist in the recruitment field who will help you utilise it.

Mark Wagner is a senior manager at Shilton Sharpe Quarry