Losing a job as the result of a reorg is a terrible experience, and the stress can be debilitating.
Emotions run high and the uncertainty can leave us feeling as though we’re standing on a fault-line that could give at any moment. While I understand the difficulties job loss presents and the strong emotions it elicits, there is one reorg response I would like to eliminate from the equation, and that is shame.
As someone who's been through a reorg (more than once) and routinely works with organizations and individuals going through corporate change and restructures, here’s what you should know:
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Not by a long-shot. Have a look at LinkedIn, pick up a newspaper. Companies are constantly laying people off, and there are so many reasons for rampant restructures including duplication of roles caused by mergers and acquisitions, technological advances which require regular ‘skill-set resets,’ economic factors which force companies to downsize, and corporate responsibility to shareholders. I bet if you work in the private sector you and almost everyone you know will at one point in their career be affected by a reorg, possibly more than once.
IT’S NOT PERSONAL
When we lose a job for any reason, even a mass layoff, it can feel personal. We have conversations with ourselves like this one:
Don’t they see the value I bring?
I saved and made money for the business. I worked nights and weekends giving up time with my family and friends. It seemed like we had a great relationship, and worked together so well. Why me?
All these things may very well be true, but please know it’s often the case the people making the decision know very little about your individual accomplishments and commitment. To the people making the decisions (sadly or reassuringly) you are not a name. You are a role which amounts to a title in a box on an org chart. The people making the decisions about which roles to keep and to cut loose probably have no knowledge of you, so please don’t take being laid off personally.
SHAME IS A BARRIER TO SUCCESS
I regularly speak with people whose shame over getting let go prevents them from being able to appropriately express their employment experience and accomplishments in interviews. They try and keep hidden from their network on LinkedIn and even from their friends and family that they’ve been let go, which prevents them from exposure to opportunities. I recently wrote a post called The Signal-Flare Approach to Job Searching encouraging people out of work and looking for a job to be explicit about their job search so they can leverage their networks. Showing a little vulnerability can go a very long way and the broader your reach the better your chances of finding a great new job fast.
Many of us can recall a time when online dating was considered shameful and desperate. Thank goodness for those trailblazers who put themselves out there. Without those internet dating pioneers, people like me may not have met their significant other because we were too ashamed to admit publicly we were single and post profiles on dating Apps like Tinder, Bumble or Match.
As prospective employers interviewing candidates, members of professional and personal support networks and as employees affected by a layoff seeking employment, we all have a role to play when it comes to removing reorg stigma and the shame that goes with it. It begins with the language we use about layoffs and the reactions we offer to candidates in this situation.
If you’ve been affected by a reorg, etch these 3 things into your brain: you are not alone, it’s not personal and any unnecessary shame you suffer will act as a barrier.
My website is full of articles and advice for companies and job-seekers, and the content is updated regularly. You can find more articles like this one at www.reorgworld.com/blog.