In February of this year the news fell! My entire team was presented with severance packages due to new leadership restructuring of our activities. It fell on us like a ton of bricks. Actually not! It was not a total surprise. The new leadership who was established a month prior, signaled that they wanted to make changes and adopt a new direction. To me, it was nothing that would require letting go of everyone and creating new roles we would need to apply to. Some people needed to go but what…?EVERYONE?! Including ME! My Boss. My juniors! The guy we hired the week before. EVERYONE.
An email came through my inbox “Reorg. Discussion” and HR was invited. A couple of hours before a colleague called me to let me know it was going to happen so I was just waiting to see…it really hit home once I held the paper severance package in my hands. I fought back tears.
I should not have been so shaken looking back, as a top performer in thr team and I would probably have a future in the “new” administration. It was necessarily to go the reorg. Route and make it seem like a wholesale change for legal/HR reason. But still. It was humiliating! My ego was shook. In addition, all the colleagues I had worked very closely with and I really likes were going through the worst day in a while. It was a terrible day.
I had another meeting scheduled for after the news was formally broken to me on a project I was managing. I had managed to fight back my tears but once I sat down in this other executive office and he started complaining about “what a terrible Friday this is” in a mundane way, the tears won! I was like, wtf does this guy know about having a bad day! Waterfalls started rolling down my cheeks.
I was so angry and ashamed. I was embarrassed to be breaking down in front of this particular dude because our relationship had been a been shaky and the last thing I needed in my life was for him to hold this moment over my head. I felt like a vulnerable prey. But I could not help it. I had been working overtime and super hard over the past few months and I did not need this sh*t in my life right now! That was really going to f*ck with my finances and all my plans for the rest of the year! I was trying to explain to him what had just happened and how unfair it was and how this was the worst way to deal with organizational changes and how they did not give a sh*t about the lives that were at stake. I went on about how I moved my entire family here to pursue this opportunity and make a difference and how even if I was offered to stay, I could never trust or work for this leadership again.
I looked up through my tears and this 50 something years old man of Indian descent was looking at me which a much needed compassionate look. He consoled me and handing out tissues and providing very sound and practical advice immigrant to immigrant. He reminded me that this was the corporate world and that these situations happen regardless of people’s qualifications. He told me that in these painful/trying moments I should think of my family first and act according to what works best for us long term. He asked me to keep my confidence up and told me to rest assured that there are many people who truly appreciate my work and would hire me in a heartbeat. I was a Director at the time and there was a Senior Director role opening as a result of the reorg. He encouraged me to go for it and to give this opportunity a fair shot. He reminded me to remain pragmatic and to look for an opportunity in this dark time.
I thanked him and walked-away for the weekend. I had a conversation with my husband. The package was really good but we did not come this far for this. We would not allow workplace politics to determine when we call this adventure quits or not. We came for something, we are not leaving until we feel it was achieved. The package wouldn’t do. I would apply to the senior director role, kill it and would go on to greater things whenever we made the choice it was time.
That evening I applied to the new role which was posted. Over the next few days I held my head up. I worked very hard at sustaining those hallways looks that say “oh poor you dying thing” and handled every meeting and engagement like I was here to stay! I had meetings with other execs and the top executive in my functional area to discuss the senior director role and how that was a perfect fit for me. After all, I had been doing the work, so maybe it was time to the pay and title to catch up to me?
I got a great offer for it. Am I going to kill this? Yeah! Do I mind the leadership in place? Not so long as I am given the mandate and latitude to do what I do best. Do I trust them? Hell nahwww. Do I have a plan? Now more than ever, the key to being successful at it is to never get too comfortable.
All this happened in within 3 weeks. I am glad I was able to move past the initial feelings of anger, shame, betrayal, and emptiness. I spent a couple of sleepless nights thinking about how to best handle this blunder on many fronts.
What got me through?
My support system. God, family, friends.
Accepting co-workers support. Accepting that some people in my workplace were really rooting for me and were standing up for me to succeed and get through this.
Exercising. Maaannn I started hitting the gym again. I was slipping and this experience taught me to stay woke and prioritize my physical health as much as my mental and spiritual health over work.
Staying confident. My confidence in the fact that no matter what life will throw at me, God has equipped me to win. Once I dried my tears, going back to my quiet place and thinking back of all the times in my life I did not know where my feet would land and being reminded that I can always land in my father’s hand.
I am glad to have found a few minutes to share this story with you! Have you ever been laid off or gone through a work situation twist? I look forward to reading you!