I’m back for another crack at this. The words just dried up before. It is more to work through than I expected. There is this giant hole of sadness because work was mostly about the people and knowing that I won’t be seeing them on a daily basis and that this has disrupted so many lives.
It was funny because, as the boss, I was the one trying to make everyone feel better. A mix of humor and attempted confidence building. Sometimes good workers get fired. That’s just what happens in the corporate world. Sometimes the people on the lowest level get punished for bad decisions made at the highest level.
But there is still that gut punch when you are told you aren’t wanted. What’s wrong with me? Why did you keep X and not me? What did I do wrong? Because firings typically start with the easy choices, it can be stigmatizing. Were we all just dead wood that needed to be pruned? Were we really of such low value that we weren’t worth keeping around?
So it was funny when I called my Dad and he started saying some of the same things I was saying to my team. In a big layoff, it isn’t really your fault. It is just the numbers and the decisions made by others that seal your fate. And he said I have skills. A fact he later reinforced when I found out what channel the basketball games are on. Not sure that’s really a marketable skill but its something.
I decided to post something on Linked In. I’ve never used it before but I’ve got connections to people I used to know. And I don’t really work at the company anymore so I changed my status. But people interpreted that as me retiring and were congratulating me. Guess they read the status and not the post where I explained what happened. Its OK though. I think they meant well.
The truth is that it is always better to leave on your own terms. They give retirees parties and announcements and they get a special badge. We are being kicked to the curb and the severance is the payoff but it is clear we aren’t wanted around anymore. The reality is that you leave one way or the other and you don’t always have control over that.
The process of being terminated was weird/awkward. I tried my best to be chill and not show a lot of emotion. It is really some fake empathy but the real goal is to protect the company at all costs. So there are all these subtle signs that they have all the power. Like limiting my badge access to normal working hours. Sure, you’re welcome but not when we can’t see you. And to have a couple of security people roaming the halls but dressed in plain clothes like we wouldn’t know who they were. I get why they do this because you never know when someone is going to react badly but it just sends this really rotten message.
And of course, the message to “not talk about it”. This is the worse because there are people in other buildings that I interact with all the time. Now, suddenly, I’ll be an unperson. Just vanishing off the face of the earth. Unless there is something they can’t figure out, then I’m supposed to be on call. I mean they try to make it as painless as possible but it is still dehumanizing in so many ways.
As I’ve said, I don’t know that there is a GOOD way to tell people they are no longer needed but it also seems like someone should try to figure that out. And it isn’t just those who were let go who are hurting. The people I talked to who were staying are hurting to. But they are supposed to carry on as if nothing happened and try to pick up the pieces left behind because the company doesn’t seem to want a real transition. So stuff will be forgotten and things will fall through the cracks. Its ugly but it is the reality of working for someone else.
Anyway, still probably lots of emotions to sift through. Didn’t talk about my dance lessons last night so I’ll have to get to that. Not sure what this does to my dancing. That’s going to be part of the budget discussion – what can we really afford to do on one income. (If I choose to remain on the sidelines) So much to consider but we just go one day at a time.
Sorry to hear but part of corporate reality unfortunately. I’ve been through “restructuring” a couple times. It sucks whether you’re staying or going (been on both sides). Is it too cliche to say hang in there? I hope you’re able to fit dancing in the budget to a small degree at least. And your dad is right, you have skills. Managing a team is a hugely transferable skill (heck, it would apply to managing a dance studio!). Looking forward to reading about your next move.