Boy, what a scary time this is! Almost everyone is at risk. The current economy is not likely to shape up any time soon. Those of you who work hard and do a good job are no longer safe. Those of us who did work hard and did do a good job certainly weren’t safe. A good work ethic will not save you. I have been downsized and I can assure you it is quite painful. The lessons learned, however, are quite revealing. My lost job taught me a few lasting lessons.

I was fortunate to receive a severance package so my pain is not as great as others have. The cash and benefits will last for another month. Then the real pain will start. And I’m sure I’ll go through another round of anger before I become productive. I assure you I intuitively know the anger is counter productive. But, know what? Sorry, can’t help it. I can only hope you’ll be better at managing it than me.

I think I am stuck in the circle by the question of ‘Why Me’? If a whole office is being eliminated it would be much easier to accept than to be chosen to be downsized. When the whisper of downsizing first was heard, I asked what the criteria was. It was a really bad sign when there wasn’t any formal criteria. It wasn’t a performance issue. It wasn’t a production issue. I found out (too late) it was at least in part a political issue.

 

I did not realize the politics of the office until it was too late. I did a great job but I worked through lunch instead of making time to go to lunch with the boss. I did a great job but didn’t make time to tell my boss what a great job I was doing. I did a great job but didn’t make time to tell my boss about my children. I did a great job but didn’t share my problems with my boss. I discovered that those who spent the most time with the boss kept their jobs. I was too easy to be chosen because there was no personal attachment. One bit of advice to those left is make sure you are, at least, aware of this factor. You must pat your own back and try to maintain some personal connection with your boss.

Especially at lower management levels, the boss doesn’t even seem to realize that it seems to be a game. I can see now, in hindsight, how it worked. If you can be ‘friends’ you will be much better off. In my case, the boss didn’t even know that the people who were most interested in her and spent so much time in her office were speaking so harshly behind her back. When she gave me my notice and I questioned ‘Why me?’ she gave me a standard rhetoric of not being engaged (honestly, there must be a class they take to help them do this!) My lack of engagement translates to my lack of schmoozing. She had no idea that those she thought were engaged simply told a good story. I thought she was smarter than that but, believe me; you better not count on it! I can tell you this bit of hindsight is quite painful and has made me bitter. I am working hard to get past it.

It should be important, for your own self esteem, to do a good job. Just be aware that in this climate you must be more than a good worker. It helps if you are a good worker who is on the boss’s list of friends.

It’s not just the government where politics come into play.