When the redundancy notice appears, it is one of those moments when any sense of control evaporates. You can be overwhelmed with questions and doubt, but it’s important to devise a plan to regain confidence through things you can control. In this article, one of our friends shares her experience and her response.
Was trouble brewing?
Did I see the storm ahead? Feel the boat rocking? Hear any alarm bells? Was there any clue my career ship was heading for the rocks?
Times were tough. We’d had three general managers in as many years: the defeated Try Hard, the Tyrant, and the Micro-managing-control-freak-smiling-assassin, (he was my favourite). Staff sick days were high, long lunches and new outfits on the rise. Networking on LinkedIn was rabid. Long timers, a loyal bunch committed to the cause, were suddenly switching ships. A new HR manager was appointed, ……oh no….. I couldn’t find my “Survival Guide to Managing HR” anywhere!
Doors were closed, talk of another restructure surfaced. The office was unnaturally quiet, laughter was rarely heard, it felt almost wrong or inappropriate. Auditors added to the feeling of pending doom. Were my colleagues behaving oddly, awkward, different? Was I taking the warning signs seriously? Maybe bringing the dog to work was a bad idea.
I wondered should I grab a life jacket and jump ship too? Twenty-five loyal years and another recent promotion rapidly dismissed those thoughts. I kept myself busy, made good changes, was my usual flexible self, the yoga lessons and meditation felt good. Sure, there was pressure but I was happy that I was doing my bit. I had a holiday planned to recharge, my retirement was not too far off. Now was definitely not the time to leave.
I was blindsided, unprepared and naive. I refused to acknowledge the obvious, the body language, the growing resistance to my ideas, the odd remarks challenging my work and leadership. I returned from holidays and thirty minutes later I was driving back home. Only one senior manager was made redundant.
Revenge was high on my list of to dos. Dead rat in the filing cabinet, slash a couple of tyres, crash a computer or two, release a virus, nothing too drastic. What did I do wrong? Was it my oestrogen levels? My age? Was I too good at my job? I didn’t get the golden hand shake, I got some legal advice that confirmed two things, leaving was the best thing to happen to me, and I still needed to work.
I also needed a distraction, a bit of fun. The “Unemployment Club” evolved and to my surprise grew quite rapidly. I found out I was not alone. The company gave me a lifeline, a career transition coach. I realised I hadn’t considered what I wanted to do for quite some time. Away from work now, I can admit it was stressful. I was tired and very unhappy. The redundancy forced me off the treadmill and gave me a chance to reassess my life. I consider myself lucky.
I know ageism exists in the workplace, especially when applying for jobs. I’ve started job hunting and have missed out on a few roles. I’m getting plenty of interview practice, good feedback, and networking with likeminded people. I’m defining my assets, what drives me and my values. I’m looking after my health and getting financial advice. I started to look at some courses and some unpaid time getting new experiences. All of these activities are critical in my navigation towards career change. I am on a journey of self-awareness to uncover the answer to “what” I want to do and more importantly “why” I want to do it and I’m excited.
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Shaun Stanfield - Managing Director, Insurance Advisernet