You’ve been hearing the rumors for weeks. Another round of cuts are coming. Unfortunately, they weren’t just rumors – its bad news and you’re on the receiving end.
How did you go from strong contributor, key part of the team, a leader who understood the business – how did you go from all that to unemployed in what seemed to be an instant?!
It doesn’t matter how well prepared you thought you were; when it happens, it hurts. You’re shocked, possibly stunned. Your head is spinning and your heart is racing because you can’t understand how this is possible.
Maybe you avoided the previous rounds of layoffs. Maybe your seniority offered you a reprieve. Maybe your skillset was in such high demand that management thought “We can’t live without her/him!” Maybe you are promotable and decision makers saw you as a rising star with a bright future.
No matter how or why you escaped the previous rounds of reductions, you never felt “safe” and no employee should. Feeling safe leads to complacency and causes us to assume we’ve done enough. When everything is comfortable (or at least I’m not worrying about my fob opening the door at the office in the morning), then the tendency is to stop all of the things I do when I’m nervous about my future!
Remember how just a couple paragraphs ago you were glad to be the one that escaped the hatchet and kept your role? Guess what? All that work seven of your former team members used to do is now up to you and the four others that remain.
Deadlines haven’t changes, so, yeah, I’m going to need that TPS report before you leave tonight…and you’re good for the mandatory overtime this weekend, right?!
I know this is hard to believe, but sometimes it’s not good being the last one out the door. Sometimes it’s better to be the first to go.
The “You Suck” to “You Rock” Bell Curve
You don’t want to do this, but trust me, it’s important for you to keep perspective. A uniquely human characteristic is at your disposal and it will assist you through this transition. That characteristic is called empathy.
It’s gotten nearly impossible for your boss to determine who should stay and who should go. Good team leaders have outstanding hiring practices and vet out the best fit for their teams – you were one of those great hires! This is almost certainly not a reflection on you.
There isn’t a bell curve that has three of the sixteen people in your team in the “YOU SUCK” category and three in the “YOU ROCK” with the other 10 in the “YOU’RE AVERAGE” category. Poor performers were let go during the first rounds of layoffs. The dead-weight has been eliminated. Everyone excels at their role. All that’s left are key performers, those who have been at the top of their game for several years.
Unless you work for Ted Hendricks (Secret Life of Walter Mitty), you’re boss isn’t enjoying this process any more than you are. He/she is in a difficult positon, unable to sleep at night just like you. It’s different, you’re right. Your boss still has a job and paycheck…and you don’t. It’s hard to feel for him/her, but it’s necessary. Why you say? Because you are going to rise above this. Remember:
- He/she has to live with the gut-wrenching guilt that comes with knowing how deeply they impacted individuals and families
- Your boss knows that the business feels no loyalty and it’s as likely to be him/her the next time around
- He/she is perfectly aware that they are not capable of doing without you what could be done with you – your absence will be felt
- They are left to motivate decimated ranks at a time when morale is likely to be at an all-time low
That’s all well and good for them, but the question you are asking is what am I going to do? While that answer is going to be different for each individual, you can take action that will help you through this. All hope is not lost and the first thing you must decide is that you aren’t going to waste time feeling sorry for yourself – instead, you are going to take charge of yourself!
Next week, I’ll give you FOUR STEPS TO CALM YOUR SOUL.