Redundancy … it hurts, doesn’t it.
On 3 February 2009 at approximately 3.46pm, it happened to me.
The night before, there’d been an email to all staff informing us of redundancies. With a funny job being based in London but part of the Chicago office, I got to hear the news before my London colleagues.
I knew straight away that my job was at risk – I thought I wouldn’t be bothered, but of course I was. The next morning, I spotted my Head of HR as soon as I walked into the office.
She smiled and said “Good morning“, and I thought “Shit, it’s me“. 6th sense? Intuition? Coincidence?
Mid-morning, I noticed all the London IT team were meeting in the training room. Strange that I wasn’t invited though technically I am part of Chicago IT. I thought perhaps their manager is reassuring them or maybe one of them got the chop.
2.30pm comes and goes – I have a one hour catch-up meeting with my Learning & Development manager. She’s also a close friend and 7 months pregnant. We discussed her maternity cover plans.
I finish that call at 3.30pm, knowing I have departmental meeting at 4pm.
Two minutes later, my Head of HR calls:
“Sherry – we’d like you to come to a meeting“. SHIT oh SHIT. I started crying even before I put the phone down. Well not out and out bawling my eyes out, but tears in my eyes. I knew what it would be about.
I went up to the meeting room to have the “your job is at risk” conversation.
My Practice Director talked about how my CIO (in Chicago) really respects me, likes me as a person etc etc – all nice things. But at the end of the day, I don’t have a job.
At first I was so angry that I stormed out of the meeting – I don’t want to listen to this any more. The Head of HR persuaded me to come back and sit down – so she could give me the letter. The irony that the morning before (this is February in London), I had started work at 7am to work on a snow “crisis”.
I was surprised at how angry and upset I felt. But ever the professional, I was still wondering, whether I’ll have time to finish my work on the Silicon Valley relocation project.
Once the firm started to talk about cost-cutting measures at the start of the year, I had seen the writing on the wall. My role didn’t make logical sense to most outsiders. I lived in London and managed a team in Chicago. I’d felt on borrowed time for a while, once our former CIO had been replaced.
Logically, analytically, I knew it wasn’t personal. If I were my boss, maybe I would have made the same decision.
On the other hand, there’s no getting away from the emotions – upset and anger.
However I took the view “there’s something better out there for me”.
And that is true for you too.
Redundancy feels personal but it’s not. Always remember that it’s the role that’s being made redundant not the person. I know it feels personal. But it isn’t. (Unless you’re unlucky enough to work at an unscrupulous company).
Being made redundant doesn’t mean that you have lost your skills, talents and experience. You are still you. Nobody can take that away from you. In twelve months’ time, you will look back and maybe this is the best thing that could ever have happened to you.
Sadly in today’s world, redundancy is a fact of life. There’s no shame attached. No judgement.
Be ok about being upset and angry. Be ok about feeling relief if it didn’t happen to you. Be ok about feeling guilty if it’s happened to a friend.
What’s important is what you do next. Don’t wallow in the upset and anger. Yes absolutely, have a good shout, a good cry, take a duvet day or two, but don’t make any major decisions. Take a bit of time to yourself, then brush yourself down and look forward to the next challenge.
You WILL get over it. You WILL recover. You ARE enough.
Yes redundancy puts a dent in your confidence however with the right support, you can bounce right back.
Now is the time to invest in yourself. Book a short break, learn a new skill, invest in coaching or join a new networking group.
Make the most of this opportunity to re-evaluate your career to date. What work brings you joy? What could you do all day? Is now the time to change direction? How are your values being met in the office? What do you want life to look like in five years’ time?
And if you want help and guidance with that, let’s talk. I know what you’re going through and I know how to help you bounce right back.