My company is going through a vast restructuring, including the division that employs me. They've been faced with some fairly stark budgetary constraints, and have decided a number of jobs need to be trimmed, including mine.
Though less than perfect, this is not, I repeat, is not, in fact, the end of the world. There will be some change certainly, but it's not all doom and gloom!
Why am I telling you this? Many in our organisation are going through this for the first time, and it can be quite challenging. I've been there before. Both in being made redundant, and in making people redundant. In talking with my colleagues to help them deal with it, I realised this might help others who are going or will go through this at some point in their lives.
So here are my ten pointers on what to keep in mind if you too are made redundant . . . I hope it helps!
1 - This is not targeted at you.
It's normal, when a relationship ends, to feel sad, hurt, angry, etc. It's the 7 stages of grief, and it applies to broken relationships of all kinds: bereavement, break-ups, divorces, and, of course, redundancies.
When a restructuring is happening across the organisation, it is not targeted at you. It doesn't mean that anyone thinks you're less of a person, or that you've been doing a bad job, simply that the role you've been performing is going away.
2 - It's a small world.
Most people go through a normal emotional journey to be shocked, hurt, angry, and so on, (again, google the 7 stages).
That is a completely separate journey than the journey you're making in your career. As a professional, you signed on with this company to do good work. Carry on doing it. Get on with the business of doing your job to the best of your ability until the terms of your contract have been met and you're free to work elsewhere.
Most industries are really small worlds in and of themselves. You entered the industry with no reputation and few connections. In most roles, you'll make more connections and create another chapter of your reputation. Over time, you'll see the same faces over and over again. Person A hired you this time. In another life, you might be their colleague. Heck, you might even hire them!
It's a small world. Don't waste time throwing a temper tantrum. Do an honest good job, uphold the terms of your contract, and get on with life.
3 - The company only owes you what's on the contract.
Okay, you're managing your emotional journey, and you're still giving good value to the company...they should see that and give me more money/holiday/equipment/opportunities, right?
The company made a deal with you, with the Ts & Cs outlined in the contract you signed when you started.
Change is coming, but not to that contract. Obey it to the letter.
If the worst happens and the company doesn't, you'll want to know that you kept your side of the deal, so when you go for legal help, you stand the best chance of winning the case.
4 - The company reps are dealing with emotions as well.
Yes, you're on your emotional trajectory...of course you are, you've got a redundancy to deal with.
However, no matter how much you are feeling, can you imagine being on the other side of the table? You have to deal with one redundancy.
The company reps have to deal with *all* of them.
They may still have a job, but trust me, they're going through their own emotional trajectory.
5 - There's always the possibility of future work.
I've seen this happen often...a company grows too big, gets in financial trouble, has a wave of layoffs, then realises they cut too deeply, and brings some back as contractors to handle servicing their current customers.
Contracting can provide a solid income. Lots of people do it. It's a slightly different mindset than a permanent employee, but it's a valid way to work.
Let's say the company has let two people go: James and John.
James was a model employee, always worked hard, and when told of the redundancies, kept doing his job as long as the contract stipulated, helping the business.
John, though a genius and very good at his job, was "high-maintenance". There was always something that needed work, effort, support from the business for John. When the redundancies were announced, he threw a temper tantrum and didn't do any work up to the day he left.
If you were told to bring one of these employees back on a contract basis to help manage the workload, which would you call first?
6 - What happens now?
The employment contract you signed when you started working at the organisation should detail your rights, work load, payouts, and terms. Print it out, make sure you have completely upheld your side of things.
If there are any disputes, the contract may have terms dealing with how those are solved.
7 - What if it's an awful contract?
It happens. When we first start working, we don't know what to watch out for in a contract. You can be sure that the business knows *exactly* what it's doing when the contract is written, and that the contract is all about protecting the business.
Do the best you can with the contract you have. Take it as a learning experience and move on.
The time to negotiate a contract is before you sign it...not afterwards. When you're offered your next contract, modify it so that it's no longer a horrible contract BEFORE YOU SIGN IT.
For most, this won't be the last contract you sign. Learn from this experience and do a better job of negotiation next time.
If the company hiring you won't negotiate the contract at all, then think twice about whether or not you want to be working there at all. The prospect of a paycheque looks good...but not if the company is going to treat you unfairly in the end.
8 - Be flexible.
The last job you left was a particular type of job...permanent, contract, part time, full time, etc.
That doesn't mean that the next job you have will be the same type of job. You might become a contractor after having been permanent. You might switch to working full-time rather than part-time. You might find a job working from home.
When looking for the next role, be flexible. When new opportunities arise, don't say "no", say "it would work if only this, that, and the other thing were different...can we meet in the middle?"
Maybe there's only two days of work. This might be just the opportunity to start up your own business on the side, find a second part-time job, or branch out inside the organisation and take on other roles. You won't get, if you don't ask.
9 - Always flirt with potential jobs.
Over time, as your reputation increases, recruiters will occasionally call you. Always speak to them politely, in a friendly voice. If you're not interested at the moment, say so, but do it politely.
You never know when you'll have to rely on their services to provide you with a new opportunity.
10 - Don't be too serious.
This is all a part of the game of life. Stuff happens. Roll with it. Laugh at it. Learn from it. Be a better you for the challenges you'll face tomorrow.
Somewhere in this current mess, there's always a silver lining, no matter how thin, you can benefit from and do better when you meet your next challenges.
Remember: You rock! Even in the middle of a redundancy you can show the world just how much.
If, through a remarkable coincidence, any of you might know of a position for a crazy resourceful Mobile Lead, please feel free to drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!