In my work life I have been involved in many redundancy situations; it’s even happened to me too. I too know that cold inner feeling when all you know, changes. As an HR professional, it’s your role to treat all the people involved professionally, be kind and communicate. Never stop communicating. You talk to those staff affected, you talk to those staff who are not. You tell the managers were working with you to get ready for every kind of human emotion. From anger to guilt to black humour and everything thing in between. You will also see regret and sacrifice and see some of the very best of human behaviour.
Nobody wants to be made redundant if for no other reason we don’t like it when things are being done to us. Suddenly, we are not in control, and we can become very defensive. Redundancy situations also represent change, uncertainty and for some a loss of status. If you’re the breadwinner, then those personal fears and professional issues are further magnified with financial concerns. To make matters worse, most people operate on a budgetary knife edge. How long could most of us last without any income coming in before it all became very nasty? But despite this, I still think that redundancy can be a force for good. But as with so many situations it is how you approach it that makes all the difference.
1. It’s not about you
First things first, it’s not you, it’s the job that is now redundant. If it’s a real redundancy situation (and that question a whole different conversation, for another time), then it’s the job that is being made redundant, not the person. The person still has the same skills, experience and abilities they had yesterday. They have not changed, diminished or become less valuable. The only change is that they don’t fit the current employer’s needs.
This is also an important point to bear in mind when you’re going for a new role. When you’re explaining why you left your last job. The response should not be that you were made redundant. The change that happened was that the role was made redundant.
Someone who has an insight to their situation and sees the positive opportunity is a far more attractive than a person who sees only the setback. One of the best explanations I have heard from a recently redundant employee. I was interviewing them for a new role and their answer went something like, “the company needed to make changes, this included my role, but I’m looking at this change as an opportunity to seek new challenges.” It was forward looking, positive and showed that the person was not bitter about their experience.
2. Positive frame of mind
When looking at any situation those that take a positive outlook succeed over those that lack that little ray of sunshine. Bitterness should be taxed (that would bet my vote!). It’s a toxic negative influence that can paralyse individuals and companies from seeing the opportunities in front of them. It is also important to maintain a sense of perspective about the events. No matter how bad a situation, it is not bad as it seems and with the right attitude you can make positive step forward. You did not want to lose your job that’s true, but it’s just a job. You are not lost. So take a deep breath, look at the situation again and decide what you need to do.
3. Good company
If you have been dismissed, then you’re in good company. Some of the most successful people in the world have been fired and then gone on to greater things. Just to give you a few examples; Walt Disney was fired from his job at a newspaper. The editor, said (and this still makes me laugh) he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” In 2014, the turnover of Disney Corporation was around 45 billion. Oprah was fired as a news reporter for being “unfit for television news,” before later becoming one of the biggest names in television (so big I can just use her first name). Steve Jobs was also fired from Apple in 1985, before later returning in 1997 and overseeing the creation of iTunes, the iPod and the iPhone, and we all know how that turned out.
Jobs said then in a brilliant address to Stamford University in 1995 said, “The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life…..I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful-tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it”. If you have not heard his speech, it is well worth checking out. (Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc)
My final one is a favourite because it shows what is possible and that a down is just an up, waiting to happen. Lee Lacocca rose to the top at Ford, but he clashed with Henry Ford Junior and was eventually let go. He then went Chrysler and used the ideas rejected by Ford to revive Chrysler.
4. Cash value
Redundancy also has a cash value. For many it is a real opportunity to try something new. Michael Bloomberg was fired from Salomon Brothers in 1981. The experience gave him something to prove. He used his severance package to start his company Innovative Marketing Systems, a company that is still going today. Michael Bloomberg went on to be one of the top 20 richest people in US and also became the Mayor of New York. A job he did for a dollar a year.
So considering all of these, redundancy is not the issue. Fear is the issue. Whether it is fear of change, of debt or losing our identity. Fear is just an emotion that needs to be mastered, and then becomes our friend. Fear is what makes us move forward; it helps us realise that there is freedom in not being constrained and that anything is possible.
6. It’s not the end
It’s always the little things that you should appreciate. Jobs can lock us into the next objective, the next quarter or the next set of numbers. But sometimes it’s a complete change of pace or direction that helps us see what’s important. The family will always trump a job, humility is good for us and nothing is worth your health. Bad things happen to all kinds of people, but how we deal with those events is up to us.
You can’t compare yourself to others, they are not on your journey. It’s also possible that being made redundant is the one thing that changed your life for the better. Years later when you look back, it was the difference that helped you reach a new goal. So be of good cheer; get up early, try hard and with a little luck you will find a better opportunity. Remember an optimist does not see a step back, before moving a step forward as a defeat. It’s more like doing the cha-cha.
Ep 140 – Tool of the Day
Today's tool of the day is a project management system that we use at Green Umbrella called ProjectBubble. We use this to track projects for a whole range of services for our clients, but it is also an effective tool for staff reviews and 121's. With Project Bubble you never miss a deadline,collaboration of files and documents is easy, you can track and record budgets, and it creates fantastic reports. We also use it as a CRM system, so names, addresses, passwords etc are all stored on ProjectBubble which has saved us time and money as we no longer use our old CRM system, it's all in one place. We would now be lost without this wonderful system and it only costs us £25 a month (for up to five administrators).