Friday, November 13, 2009

Your Position Has Been Eliminated...



One week ago today I had a meeting with my boss. It was scheduled in a conference room where I knew we held certain types of meetings. I also knew this meeting could have gone one of two ways:

The first scenario was for him to reveal that one of our other managers was leaving our department to fill a new position working on a 2 year project in another area of the company and that he wanted to fill me in on the new responsibilities that I would be assuming and the other changes that the department would have to make - especially in light of the majority of my function being transferred to another department as well.

The second scenario would be to tell me that in light of the majority of my current job responsibilities being transferred to another department and that based on what his future vision of the structure of the department to be, that my position would be eliminated altogether and to get the hell out...but nicely and in a more professional manner...of course.

Guess which scenario I was fed?

Everyone in the department knew something was going on because "HeadMaster" was not revealing anything to anyone, including us managers, except that he was having discussions on the future of the department. As in every organization, there is always a backstory. ALWAYS. There is no exception here...but quite honestly it's exhausting just thinking about all of the events that occurred and tidbits of information I acquired The last thing I have the energy for is to blog about all of that stuff. Besides, at this point, what good would it do anyone?

I was basically given the option at that point for last Friday to be my last day at work, or to be retained by the company for another month to perform the European work and wrap up everything else that I had been working on. Did I mention that I was leaving to come here to Europe the very next day? Talk about timing. It sucked. Royally. He knew I would be professional about it and used that to his advantage. He knew I wouldn't say suck it and walk out, though that was what I really really really wanted to do.

"I understand if you want to take some time for yourself today to read through the information and...just take some time for yourself," he told me.

Hmmm...how generous of you.

The second that meeting was over, I walked straight to my desk, grabbed my purse with my severance package folder in my hand and walked out "to deal." I'm not going to lie and say I was stoic about it. I was stoic when I needed to be. But the second I got home...the tears and bawling started to freeform. It was like someone had broken up with me.

Someone did break up with me.

I knew I would be fine professionally and financially, but my ego had been bruised. Up until last week, I was the person that people bent over backwards to save...not the first one to be cut at the opening of an opportunity. And it hurt. And it was personal, regardless of what anyone would like me to believe. Even if there was nothing felt personally against me...against my performance...well, let's just say that I know it's more than just having a department organized in line with what other companies of a similar size have.

I pulled myself together enough so that I could be understood through my tears as I called my mom and broke the news to her. We both knew I would be fine. The timing of the announcement was just shocking.

After I got off of the phone with her, my brain and my body went into somewhat of an automatic pilot setting. Unfortunately, this is not the first time in my life I have had to deal with something that was shocking and traumatic. Thank God though in terms of severity, being laid off was pretty low down on the list so automatic pilot came quickly.

I really pulled myself together, got back in my car and headed back to the office to make the afternoon status meeting I had scheduled. First and foremost, I am a leader. I still had staff to lead. I was still their Manager until mid-December. When I arrived at the office, I began the task of sitting down with each one of the other managers, the staff and other company contacts I worked directly with on a regular basis to inform them about what the situation was and that I was "okay." That I will be "okay." For many of them, I may be their first "direct" experience in this type of situation, and I really felt it was important that they be provided with the most professional example possible. That if they were faced with a situation, that they had a reference point from which to draw on - and that it was a good one.

Even though my reaction to a situation is my choice to make, this decision on how to react really just presented itself to me. I don't know how to be any other way but the consummate professional, especially in a difficult situation. I really just don't know how to be any other way.

So I finished up with all of my own "discussions," gathered my work stuff together for my Europe trip and left again...to go home and pack. Needless to say from the time of that fateful meeting to the time I boarded the plane on Saturday evening, I was pretty much in a daze. I still have moments of being dazed and confused over the last week that I've been here in Europe. That's to be expected. What I didn't expect was that picking up and having to go to Europe immediately would actually be healing...and a blessing.

The one thing that I do know that became more clear than anything over this past week...the second you stop trying is the second people stop trying for you. I stopped trying to be any better than what was required early on in this job because any additional effort or initiative was struck down as not being a "good idea." Most of the others in my department had already reached that point prior to my even becoming employed at the company. I just happened to be the one that took the fall.

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