This fella looks nothing like me, we do however share the same pose. Of late I’ve been perched on my desk like this an awful lot. This is a small violins post, so treat it as such. I am thankful for all I have and hugely positive for the future, this is snapshot of really early feelings when the ground underneath shook.
I haven’t written it to draw sympathy but hold myself to account for quite simply sleep-walking into redundancy. It might help others feeling like they’re sleepwalking to wake up, who knows. This is my account though.
Just two short weeks ago a bomb finally went off under my chair, it’s had a very slow burning fuse and for months I’ve known it’s been there but like all those bombs left undetonated from WWII I’ve chosen to assume it will be okay. My previous blog posts have even called this out before.
Where do I start…
I have been with my current company for four years, I had the interview with my wife heavily pregnant in the car with our daughter. After the interview we dutifully headed to Kiddiecare to stock up for our arrival. It was a little surreal and the interviewers had a chuckle (they didn’t offer Mum came-in for a coffee mind). Thereafter our daughter was born and in the very moment we left the ward, I placed our daughter in the car and the phone rang to extend the job offer. I explained that our daughter was in the car for the first time and I’ll call back.
It was scary leaving the confines of a safe job into the unknown but I did ring back and thereafter started a bold new job, accepting I might need to travel a lot but the money was far better and would make up for Mum going part-time. The opportunities to develop and grow were all there, but I’d be working isolated form the main hubs.
Being brutally honest as the duties and responsibilities of fatherhood kicked-in, I took the foot off the gas from my career. I worked on a relatively busy account and always did what was expected of me and more at times. Was it to the same level as before becoming a father no. I settled for doing just enough and working it around our daughter. I veered clear of what I thought was unnecessary over-time, travel and very much kept my head down not seeking a challenge. This was a huge change to my previous jobs, where I would work through weekends and after-hours just to learn that much more and take on the most challenging work. Again this is not to say I have been bit-part, my performance reviews show that is not the case, but the focus has been different. For me it’s been about being at home for the kids ahead of anything else.
So a few short weeks ago the business announced redundancies in the area I work in. This has rocked me totally. Ever since I have not felt in control of my family. So much rests on the salary but not only that the stability that we’ve enjoyed since becoming parents, including the huge advantage of being able to work from home. In an instant all that was taken from me as the reality dawned that this was serious trouble.
The natural reaction of course is to panic and that I dutifully did. I immediately dusted off the CV and started skimming through LinkedIn. This is where I was dealt the second hammer blow. The world around the career I’ve dedicated over ten years to has changed so much in the last four years that my CV alone would not get me into the door for interviews. That slow burning fuse, that was the time I let my career slip through knowing the bomb will go-off at some point.
At this point I started to hit the apply button on LinkedIn to all kids of opportunities, many weren’t even applicable but with the thinking they were jobs I could lean myself towards. This was all within the first few days. Through this I panicked about our savings and just how we would cope with any long-term joblessness.
In the week after I leapt at the opportunity to become an Employee Representative, to be the voice of us hundred workers (minions). This was me awoken and back in the game. I wanted to ask the questions and scrutinise our leadership team. I was frustrated, deeply worried and angered at how the actions, decisions and forecasts of people who don’t understand our business, people or customers had brought us here. How we were paying the price.
We’re now into four weeks of the consultation and it’s been heart-wrenching. Never have I had to line-manage people to this degree. As anyone would always helped colleagues as they need but never been responsible for them. At the Representative training I met the other three people, who like myself cared the same as me. We all stood unchallenged but they were different, they were well known in grades far higher than I who sat at the bottom rung relatively unknown, thanks to the obscurity I enjoyed for the previous four years.
The reality quickly dawned just how much responsibility this would be, not least holding update calls with the hundred other poor sods all fretting just as I was. What is a worse turn of events my line managers were also in-scope and I am now representing them. It’s a big learning experience it does play well to characteristics I have of being honest, fair, pragmatic and approachable, it’s a huge shame that they’re finally exploited in a process like this. People’s livelihoods now depend on these characteristics and strengths I can bring.
A few weeks have passed since. We’ve been pushing and playing the games through the meetings with HR and the senior leadership team. Colleagues have been playing their part as we’ve asked and looked to us for help, which we’ve all dutifully done. After some gentle encouragement a far younger and dynamic chap was persuaded to step in to the vacant representative post, more so as it would be a very good learning experience for him. So we’re in the think of it, trying to find out who will accept voluntary redundancy, can we find that killer argument to save people. We understand the business position and now have to choose what we argue against and what we accept. A push to far could encourage the bean-counters to cut further, a push to gentle and they get away with it.
I need small violins around me 24/7 to acknowledge how tight the shoulders, neck and back are feeling. As a young lad our family went through a similar situation, our family lost everything, I promised myself to always be in-control and never allow falling into that trap. I would ensure we were financially sound and remain on top of my career. This failing has hurt me deeply as a Father today. Yes I’ve been there for the kids and loved every minute but is the price?
It’s been a very bitter pill to swallow… This is quite a selfish post as I’m not alone in the world. Equally things could be so much worse and I do keep telling myself. Ultimately I will find work or maybe find myself safe. It will mean our life a family changes as I re-focus on the career and do what’s necessary to not be here again. That might mean not being home every night, it might mean far bolder risks and challenges.
Now the bomb has gone off, as a Dad I’m ready for the challenges. All I pray is that my family do not pay the price for my falling asleep at the wheel.
Oh and the time of year is fucking shit. Christmas is going to god awful and it’s horrible that it’s money, targets and reputations of people that dictate the decimation for Christmas for so many.
If anyone has any advice and/or words of motivation please share 🙂