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A Victim Of The Economic Climate
Sunset Over Your Career?
Global Unemployment Figures (IMF quoted in The Guardian Newspaper)
The Winds Of Change
Six months ago my job of eight years came to an end. The service I was a Manager for had been re-commissioned, the new providers had immediately implemented a restructure and I was surplus to requirements.
Not to have felt the winds of change whistling and buffeting for the past three years was impossible. Two weeks after coming the power, the Coalition Government in the UK announced public spending cuts in the wake of the credit crunch and the banking crisis, and reflecting global financial uncertainty. Locally this translated into entire offices emptying seemingly overnight as services were cut.
I felt ready, I was happy to go and in the lead up had been excited about the possibilities and ready for a change. Despite that it was a shock when it happened, like being slapped.
So no matter how evident it is right now that they can’t manage without you - the place falls apart when you’re on leave, your phone rings constantly when you’re out on a training day – you’re not indispensable apparently. More importantly you’re not immune to the economic climate.
Services routed in communities such as schools, clinics or community programs are very particular places to work with a strong sense of purpose and identity.
Many people feel that it’s more than a job, it’s about being part of a community. My favourite part of the week was Monday morning, parents shepherding children along the pavement and teenagers crowding at the bus stop or wobbling along on bikes. The community gearing up for another week. So in the future it’s going to carry out without you, all those painstakingly-built relationships, all the crises and triumphs.
Leaving a much-loved job is a very personal process, nobody can say what it’s going to be like for you but it is a process with recognisable stages. However using the Kublar Ross (1969) change curve to predict how we will feel doesn't actually take those feelings away.
Kubler Ross Change Curve
Gardening Leave Approaching?
Letting go involves a loss like any personal change and needs to be mourned in order to move on . This can happen before you have actually left if the rate of change is so brutal they can't wait for you to go. Everything familiar is changing around you like a dream sequence in a film, leaving you to walk away from a job you already don’t recognise.
For me it was September that did it. I’d given myself the some time off and had a peaceful time, tending my allotment; going out for lunch and generally doing nice things. Then September kicked in, schools mobilising after the summer, streets and parks emptying, leaving me feeling strange and dislocated.
Part of letting go is leaving properly. My request to take gardening leave rather than go into the new structure with no role was granted which meant that I left very quickly. Other people were leaving as well and some of those staying were just as shell-shocked by new responsibilities and the rapid rate of change.
Despite this sense of disintegration colleagues made huge efforts to give me a proper ending which helped in the long term to draw a line for me.
What Comes Next?
For those who didn’t feel that that had done all they could in their job and weren’t ready to go trying to work out what comes next is puzzling and painful. So if it looks as if this scenario might be on the horizon now could be a good time for contingency planning. Some observations on this are:
- Apparently people do one of two things with redundancy money or severance pay: they either work out how long it will last them or what they could do with it.
- Don’t be rushed into parting with it. It may be enough to fund some re-training but check it out thoroughly before committing to anything.
- It really helps to talk this through with someone neutral and objective but we do all have to make our own decisions about our lives.
Most crucially, don’t lose your confidence. This isn’t personal, it’s about you getting caught up in the fallout. You are still the resourceful, resilient multi-skilled person you always were and, above anything else, it’s worth holding on to that thought.
Thinking Through The Next Steps
Prepare To Re-launch
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