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Navigating Layoff, Redundancy or Restructure

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2023 began with a lingering feeling in the air, only to be described as melancholy. It wouldn’t be unjust of me to say that the beginning of this year has created a lot of unsettlement within the workforce. It seems as though redundancies are happening everywhere you look. Just last month, Google laid off 12,000 workers, equating to 6% of its 186,000 global workforce. Needless to say, a lot of change is happening, and people have to adapt quicker than ever before.
The Just Jaz coaching business was born from redundancy in 2018. This unintentional career change was established from something negative, uncertain, and uncontrollable. Redundancy, layoff, and restructuring have always been ugly words in the working world. No one wants the terms associated with them or their careers.
The sexy career change is when you are in control, you’ve decided to pivot, and your hand hasn’t been forced. You’ve decided to make that change, be intentional with your career and confidently go into the unknown. We can all agree nothing is empowering or sexy about being summoned by your manager to enter a meeting room, awkwardly sit and wait for the inevitable, only to receive a vague message about budget cuts and department reshuffles from senior leadership, followed by a formal and sometimes dehumanising exit interview.
There’s no intention, only disheartenment. No strength building, only frustration. I never felt more like a human resource than when I underwent the redundancy process five years ago. Sure, there was empathy, support and compassion, but it felt inauthentic. A legal obligation as opposed to the reality that this action would change everything.

Don’t allow yourself to question your impact and value

We are such creatures of habit to self-depreciate in moments of uncertainty. “Failure” is the first thought that comes to mind when something goes wrong. We focus on the negative so much that we question every action we’ve ever done. A negative moment can feel so destabilising that you tend to forget any positive feedback you’ve ever received. Taking something personally and thinking you aren’t good enough is too easy. Usually, this is never the case. It’s business rather an anything else. Try to remember:

You’re unique, but the situation isn’t

There is plenty of support and advice to learn from so you can bounce back even more robustly. It’s very easy to feel singled out, specially selected and even shameful about what is happening. But this is part of more folks’ career journeys than you know and is a result of a fluctuating economy amongst other things. I don’t say this to invalidate your experience but encourage you to take perspective that there is plenty of support both in personal accounts and communities resources to help you weather the storm.

Don’t dismiss yourself

Your skills, strengths and talents are still there; they haven’t disappeared or been taken away. What has changed is where you apply those skills, strengths and talents and it’s likely changed before; just this time is more unexpected and out of control. 

p.s. If you’re not clear on your skills, strengths and talents, check out The Vault Community.

Don’t take it personally

LTDs, LLCs, and CICs are an entity not led by emotion. It’s easy for a group of individuals to make a decision based on numbers on a piece of paper. An echo chamber forms, solidifying an idea based on budget and expenditure. The human element gets lost instantly. Try to remember that business is business and that when the collective of humans you know as manager, colleague and more gather to have these conversations and make these decisions they are no longer {insert name} but the entity.

Doing the dirty

At times, unfair dismissal will be the reasoning behind a layoff or redundancy. Hence, it’s essential to know your rights and do your research so you can protect yourself and not allow organisations to get away with cutting corners. There are many industry bodies, unions, HR consultants and legal professionals who can advise you if you’re unsure. 

Protect your peace before pursuing productivity

To the high achievers and ambitious folks in the room, don’t allow yourself to become overstimulated with the idea of “getting back on the horse.” Becoming overwhelmed because you haven’t given yourself time to process will only lead to cracks. Stop, take a moment and allow yourself to reflect and process what is really happening. Don’t feel you have to jump into the job search straight away when your struggling to string together sentences without reflecting on what you are losing.

Remember to breathe (literally)

Take a moment and pay attention to how your body copes under stress. Acknowledge the signs that it’s shutting down and not responding as quickly as usual, seek medical professional help where needed. Take the long walks, be around animals and escape the city to restore a sense of balance and wellness. You will struggle to make decisions and show up if your not getting proper rest, nutrition and care.

Don’t pretend everything is okay

The best way to learn from an experience is to sit in the emotion of it. Lean into it. Register and absorb. You will know how to respond to an experience appropriately only after registering how you’re feeling. For every challenging thought, unhelpful belief or moment of self-doubt, there will be a root. Bring those raw thoughts to a trusted friend, therapist or coach.

Don’t build on a shaky foundation

If you try to run before you can walk, you will fall. Try to take a moment and not react straight away. The recruiter you want to call instantly is going nowhere. The silver lining may be that you haven’t looked at your CV in over a year, you’ve lost track of all your new skills, and you’re not even sure you want to keep pursuing the same career path. This can be a micro-reset where you can “tap the ground” of your career to ensure you still stand where you want to be.

p.s. tap the ground refers to my carpenter-dad’s habit of tapping surfaces to understand the material it’s made from i.e. marble, granite

Empaths, run

An empath is described as someone who “is a person highly attuned to the feelings and emotions of those around them. Empaths feel what another person is feeling at a deep emotional level”. If this is you, be wary of your capacity to hold others’ emotions. It can get heavy and start to weigh you down. Try and keep it at an arm’s length. It might feel like you’re being inauthentic, but you are protecting yourself.

Honouring your experience in the moment

The power of time to think

So often, we take thinking time for granted and rely on mental shortcuts to carry us through. Mental shortcuts are detrimental to your development as they stop you from learning and being vulnerable. Growth comes from learning, and learning comes from giving yourself that time.

Be present in the experience

So many emotions arise when we at in a place of uncertainty. Feelings of betrayal, anger, sadness, numbness. Self-compassion for your experience of what’s going on right now will allow you to come out to the other side with a better understanding of how to react next time you find yourself in a place of uncertainty.

The difference between response and reaction

When upset, the default reaction is to lash out. It’s human nature. You’re hurt, so your defences go up. A more effective coping mechanism is to carve out space and sort compassion for you and the other person. Give yourself time to process, understand, and gauge where this feedback or reaction comes from. View the experience as a learning. 

What am I making this mean? 

A running theme through this article is learning from the experience. Having a takeaway from every negative interaction you ever find yourself in allows you the confidence to come back more equipped, with better-coping mechanisms and a better understanding of yourself and how to react positively.

So much of an experience is unique to you, felt by you. It’s your experience to be had. The situation may be the same, but the learning is how you deal with it, respond, and grow. This mindset will create a greater understanding of how to protect yourself and give space to create more robust mental and professional boundaries.

Self-belief should never be lost in these moments, yet it is the first to be questioned. I want to focus on what can be gained from these challenging times and allow you to thrive instead of doubt. What are the break-glass messages we can take away from the uncontrollable experiences, these harsh realities that so many of us are facing currently? If you are struggling to navigate this season of your career, book a call, I can help.

Want support navigating layoff?

I’ve created a comprehensive guide to navigating this season of your career that is practical, personal, coaching-based and FREE. 

Navigating Layoff, Redundancy or Restructure - Just Jaz

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