Please SHARE with FRIENDS or LOVED ONES who are going through a reluctant or unexpected REDUNDANCY.
Going through a redundancy is one of the most agonising, vulnerable, and traumatising experiences in a human’s life, including an illness or the loss of a loved one.
Here are a few things I share with my clients when they are going through it:
1) It was never about you…
Companies will need to let go of people for many reasons, including saving their bottom line or market dynamics. And guess what, they will need to legally justify it based on performance or other means. So they will make it personal to you. But it is really not about you, it is simply a timing issue. Don’t play that game. Remember: your work is NOT your self-worth. Your job role is not on your ID card. So stop making it your identity.
Yes, yours and your family’s livelihood are on the line, despite the fact that you have done nothing wrong. Being good and excellent at work cannot always safeguard you from life’s adversities. But as hopeless as you may feel, you are not as helpless as you may think. Viktor Frankl (famous author of “Man’s search for Meaning”) says: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.” So let’s look at your response.
2) Yes, it is deeply unfair…
Your manager and team are probably in the same boat or if not they have the awful job of delivering terrible messages that make them feel uncomfortable (guilty). No one wants to be blamed or do a dirty job, especially when the decision is not theirs.
Yes, the impact on you and your life is detrimental. The emotional damage alone that ensues from such an event is huge: anger, sorrow, and despair. There is no price of money that can be paid to make this up to you. EVER. It is OKAY to be in shock. There is nothing to dress up. This is an open attack, pure violence, and deeply unfair. This triggers fear and defence (coping mechanisms). Emotions are on a high. Of course, you deserved better than this behaviour, rejection, and dismissal. And what’s worse, closure may never come.
The rules here are not written by you. It should not have happened, but you cannot influence it. Yes, your values are being violated. And of course, it hurts. But you will not only survive this, you will thrive through this. It’s time now to close that door. In order to open another. Do not waste any more time, trying to understand WHY this happened to you. Your focus (energy time attention) is better spent on HOW you will overcome this hiccup. Shift from past to future. Build the bridge.
3) Be brutal (get your finances in order, fast!) and make a plan
Money is a lifeline. So here is your honesty moment: How many weeks/months can you sustain you (and your family) without working? Being clear on your financial runway and having a hard stop is important in this process. It gives you freedom and choices. It is not all doom and gloom. But clarity gives us limitations and therefore narrows down our choices in a helpful way.
Cover the worse case scenario: If the worst was to happen, what needs to go? Be brutal and stop the leak now. Not later. Cut down the fat. Extras must go, now!
What can you stop (cut down) right now to increase your runway (breathing room), should the worse happen? Take the LIBERTY to not give presents for festivities, not go out to restaurants, cancel trips you did not want to go on anyway! You have the perfect excuse.
Word of caution: Do not compromise on things that will support your transition or simply give you immense joy (personal development, therapy, gym, planned family travel, travelling back home, etc).
Intellectually, it is important to have clarity on your financial situation and creating a plan of choices. Now reverse engineer (work backwards) what you need to have in place to make a smooth transition, based on your financial runway. Plonk in your calendar the desired timeline for e.g.
- Interviews (the more senior you are the more stages there are, give yourself 3-6 months at least),
- Get an updated CV (if like me you could not face your Resume, (if you cannot face your own CV pay someone to get the info out of you and give it a facelift! It is worth the money, trust me!)
- Before that, you may need to decide on the industry/position/companies that you will target. Are you clear? Or are you making a career change?
- Make time for networking weekly (meaningful conversations with your network, reintroducing you and your transition intentions),
- But before all that you need to plan to take a timeout…
4) Take a TIMEOUT (allow time to process this and be supported through this)
Trauma (“wound” in Greek) is a disconnection with ourselves (according to Gabor Mate, physician, and author of the Myth of Normal). When it is too painful to experience this “violence”, we shut down feeling emotions. We compartmentalise what’s painful to carry on operating as normal. NO, you are not a failure if you cannot afford to support your family and meet your personal responsibilities. I see people panicking, trying to jump ship into a new job immediately without thinking or processing. These spasmodic moves are never wise. Why? My mentor Blair Singer says, “When our emotions are high, our intelligence is low”. We just seek the previous comfortable status quo.
But consider this for a moment. A physical wound would require you to take time off for recovery. I never see anyone taking time to deal with heartbreak, let alone an emotionally or mentally traumatic experience at work. I have been guilty of this too by the way. Because this is never spoken or accepted in our society, that does not make it necessarily okay! This is madness! Take a TIMEOUT. You need to grieve this loss! This is the loss of security, safety, status, job, income stream, pride, independence, whatever you associated your role with. A part of you “died” and you need to say properly “goodbye”. Avoiding or neglecting it (because you don’t know what to do) is not a good excuse (after you read this) and for what it’s worth, it will not heal it. It will bite you later on… when you least expect it!
Find a psychologist, therapist, counsellor, or career coach specialising in redundancies and outplacements to discuss it and go through this process. Your conscious and aware friends are a good place to offload too. Give it time. Plan it (as per point 3) in, this is your RECOVERY. No one will give you this TIME OUT. It is up to you to take this time off. It is ONLY up to you to do this properly. Travel (lean) if you must. There is no need to feel guilty about healing.
5) Ask for guidance, it is a sign of strength
The biggest mistake I see with people in their careers is that they believe they have to figure it all out alone. This belief takes over especially when we lack confidence. We hold onto it tighter. The people who progress and succeed, let go of self-importance and self-sufficiency. They unapologetically receive help when in need. We don’t need to have all the answers all the time. Nobody will give you a medal for innovating a way out of redundancy blues. There is NOTHING TO PROVE. There never was. Expert help exists for a reason. Seek out for it. You don’t try to extract your own teeth, do you? You go to the dentist. Getting help is not a further blow to your already fragile confidence. It is a sign of growth and strength. Don’t let your EGO take over now. It won’t help you. Surrender.
This is no territory for friends and family, especially if they have never been through redundancy. They won’t get this part and even worse, they may project all their limitations, insecurities, and fears onto you (and you are very sensitive right now!). Don’t skimp on this part, seek expert advice and pay for it. Seek out the wise ones in your professional circle. Find a ‘veteran’ who has gone through a redundancy successfully (i.e. has recovered from it, remained positive, or re-invented themselves). It is important to have accountability here so that you can keep disciplined on your plan above (point 3). An external figure always seems to keep us more integral when keeping promises to ourselves. Use all the help you can to figure out a bespoke plan and stick to it.
I give a 90′ FREE Coaching session to help you make sense of what is happening and accelerate you towards actionable SOLUTIONS, claim it here: https://calendly.com/eudaimonia-coaching/discovery (Do not worry I do not sell what you don’t need, this is really a gift!).
It sounds counterintuitive, but… you can make money by spending time (getting hired) and / or spending money (investing). You may not be willing to see this right now, but the fact is that you have been given Freedom and Time. Albeit reluctantly. You would have otherwise not chosen to take this Freedom and Time, in the name of service, usefulness, and career aspirations (and many other responsibilities)! Now, these excuses have been taken away, here we are. Anxiety is the dizziness of Freedom – as Kierkegaard notes.
If your industry is undergoing a crisis, it is time to invest in yourself, yes it is not your employer’s responsibility to invest in you. You now find yourself responsible to take care of yourself. I know your first thought… “I cannot afford it now… I have a mortgage to pay and a family to raise”. Well… you got a little comfortable and did not afford it earlier when you had a job. Tough. So you absolutely have to know that you have the time and freedom. So yes you can afford it because you are the only asset you have. Without yourself being relevant, invested, and hired, you cannot sustain your dependents and responsibilities. It is time to feed your soul so that you can feed your belly. When we don’t make OURSELVES a priority, we become an urgency!
It is also time to invest your money too (i.e. make your money work and earn a return or alternative income streams while you are looking for a job). Whatever you do, do not leave your money in the bank as INFLATION is eating it up. Consult a Financial Advisor (or 3!) in your network to discuss your particular options. Here is a short educational video on FINANCIAL WELLNESS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLKF_rM_Pgk
7) Gain by Giving (Pay it forward)
Volunteering and/or helping others in need always returns higher yields than anticipated. Many of my clients who volunteer, end up finding meaningful opportunities while in action. This can be particularly useful if you are looking to change careers and gain relevant experience. If you do not know where to start, reach out to others going through your particular struggles and simply be a space for them to offload their struggles (you don’t need to know how to help them yet). We learn so much by connecting in times of need. Also, the feeling of belonging and community is important when we are not under the banner (brand) of an organisation that employs us.
Finally, reconnect with your passions. Joy is the most valid indicator of our strengths, passions and interests. Joy is the only way to connect with ourselves (to overcome the disconnection caused by trauma). Joy steadily leads us to confidence.
If this was useful in any small way, please SHARE with FRIENDS or LOVED ONES who are going through a REDUNDANCY.
With Courage and Meraki,
Eudaimonia Coaching UK
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