Donít Let Downsizing Defeat You
by Anita Perez
in workforce have become commonplace in our culture. But no matter how many
tales we hear of layoffs, reorganizations, mergers, and downsizing, we are never
fully shielded from the impact of an ax swinging in our direction. According to
the U.S. Department of Laborís Bureau of Labor Statistics, employers laid off
171,088 American workers in October alone. Add them to millions of others whoíve
gone before them, and we would not exaggerate if we called this condition an
People respond to their unemployed status in a number of ways. Some are
optimistic, picking themselves up, brushing themselves off, and aggressively
beginning their campaign for a new position. Others spend some time licking
their wounds and rehashing the details and the downfall of their department
before they find the courage to go back out into the world of work. Still there
are others who become completely paralyzed by fear and anguish. Is there a right
way to react to the sudden loss of your social and financial security?
Letís talk about the optimist. He looks at his pink slip and sees a ticket to
a new and exciting future. His glass is half-full, never half-empty. He
reassesses his wants and desires and broadens his search to include
opportunities in other fields of interest. He goes on a number of interesting
interviews and soon lands a new job with a great company. And the good news is
that he terminates his unemployment long before unemployment terminates him and
he never once touched his severance package. Mr. Optimism soon discovers that he
doesnít have the authority he thought he had and when he tries to discuss the
matter with his director, he is met with evasiveness and ambiguity. To him, this
hazy environment begins to feel much like the one that preceded his previous
employerís reorganization and subsequent mass layoff. But itís not the old
company Ė itís a new one. Mr. Optimism overreacts one time too many and within a
couple of months is unemployed, again.
Then there are the Wound-Lickers. They are hurt and they know it. They were
devoted to their employer and they fully embraced the organizationís corporate
culture. Interviewers are put off by their single-mindedness and the tears that
well up in their eyes. Without their position, they are lost Ė and they donít
hide it very well. Friends and family members who were so eager to listen during
those first couple of weeks, now avoid them at all costs. Desperate for a
sympathetic ear, Wound-Lickers pull out the old department roster and begin
calling each other to commiserate and renew their negative energy. Most pull
themselves up their bootstraps and get on with life at some point. But a few,
sink a dangerous low.
The affects of a sudden loss, including a job loss, can spiral some into a
danger zone. (Anyone with signs of clinical depression should seek the advice of
a mental health professional.) Feelings of guilt, shame and inferiority can
creep in and become crippling. Former employees with this degree of suffering
may not have the self-motivation to take the steps necessary to free themselves.
Caring friends can suggest support groups or individual counseling.
These are just a few examples of the many complex responses to job loss. When
youíve been loyal to an organization and find yourself unexpectedly unemployed,
anger is a common reaction. Hiding behind that anger, youíll often find emotions
like hurt and fear. These are natural reactions to the assault that youíve
suffered. Your self-esteem, your self-confidence, and your financial security
have all been attacked. Your body produces these emotions so you can protect
yourself. But when they fester and you begin to exhibit signs of bitterness and
insecurity, you can become your own enemy.
Five Tips for Renewing Yourself after Job Loss
1. Admit that you are hurt and allow yourself to heal. Take advantage of your
employerís transition assistance program. Join a support group. Talk to a life
coach. Get counseling. Donít let your pain turn into bitterness or insecurity.
2. Release your anger. No matter how hard you try to keep your game face on,
if youíre still angry with your former employer, the person who is interviewing
you for the next opportunity will know it. Donít give your former employer that
kind of power over your future prosperity.
3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Self-doubts will eat away at
your confidence and impair your perception of your own abilities. Give yourself
credit for your accomplishments and donít knock yourself for not being able to
single-handedly save your company or department.
4. Nurture yourself. Remember: garbage in, garbage out. Listen to uplifting
music. Read empowering materials. Talk to encouraging people. Take
responsibility for how you feel by doing things that make you feel good.
5. Explore your interests. Ask yourself what it is that youíd really like to
do for a living. Then, do it. Up until now, youíve done what you had to do.
Perhaps itís time to do what you want to do. Trust that the desire has been
placed inside of you for a reason and go for it.
Itís possible that you can accomplish any or all of these things on your own.
But if youíre stuck, you might want to consider partnering with a friend, a
coach, a career counselor or, if necessary, a therapist. You donít have to go it
alone. In fact, having someone to help you to identify your blind spots, make
recommendations and hold you accountable will pull you out of your slump much
Anita Perez is a career strategist and life coach who
specializes in working with executives in transition. Visit her web site at
http://www.reach-higher.net. She can
be reached via email at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 215-369-4060.