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Harvard Business Review on Advancing Your Career by Harvard Business Review

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The Right Way to Be Fired

by Laurence J. Stybel and Maryanne Peabody

EVEN IN THE BEST OF TIMES, executives get fired, and in the worst, they get fired with disquieting frequency. Indeed, as the economy softens, you only have to glance at the newspaper to see layoffs left, right, and center, mainly to cut costs. You can be a top performer today and still lose your job. The question is: Can you lose it the right way?

For 22 years, we have worked closely with more than 500 senior executives in dozens of industries to manage their careers in good times and in bad. Over and over, we have observed how executives react to being fired or laid off. The majority handle termination with dignity, even elegance. They negotiate handsome severance packages, ...

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