Layoffs hit our psychological jugular. (I just created the term in this context.) Emotions run awry. Relationships are transformed. Former professional/work alliances become beleaguered, UNLESS we make strategic measures to overcome these realities. (Speaking from experience in the past of one who has worked in various industries: radio broadcasting, education, sales and marketing and career/employment services.) Presently, the content of the article will be revised, with the hope you, the reader, and the laid off worker will share your experiences so I can provide further strategies and remedies for an all encompassing, devastating life experience, the layoff. To quote J.T. O'Donnell, the founder of CAREEREALISM, North Americans have one unique commonality that separates them from the rest of the Western workforce. In casual and professional situations, North Americans are quick to tie job titles with one's identity. Imagine yourself in a social situation, laid off, and you are asked, "So what do you do, Jane?" Words may behoove you, unless you have crafted a good branding statement or "elevator pitch" as we say in the employment field.
Layoff SignsBut let's get to the root of the matter. I will be satisfied if at least ONE person can benefit from the tell tale signs of a layoff. Haunting as the signs may be, they are in no specific order: 1. Workplace behavior has changed toward you. This upsetting experience can be defined as simply as management giving you short shrift, criticism, lack of recognition, and decreased responsibilities. Be mindful of when these situations unfold around you. Management is paying attention. Or to harken back to George Orwell, "Big Brother is watching you." (Was it no co-incidence over 100 of his predictions in the book 1984 came true?) 2. Your performance evaluation ratings have slipped and your supervisor is specific about what you are doing "wrong" rather than what you are doing "right" for the company or organization. While ratings like statistics can be manipulated, pay attention to the language of the performance evaluations, specifically direct quotations. Weigh your last performance evaluation ratings against the previous year. It is astonishing how many clients I have had whose employers did not provide regular performance evaluations! 3. Your workplace environment has been drastically altered. Has your office been modified? Has your private office been down scaled to a cubicle or outside location, in contrast to your other co-workers? Did you have to wait for a long period of time to get a private office, especially if you deal with and receive sensitive or confidential information in the course of your work? 4. You have been "singled" out in public or in private by management. This shameful behavior is prevalent, unfortunately in 2012. Have your ideas been discredited increasingly during staff meetings? Are you the subject of intense scrutiny "behind closed doors" by management, resulting in more frequent meetings in your boss' office? 5. Is office communication between you and management abnormally slow, infrequent or compromised? This can take form of communication, under intense scrutiny, such as e-mails. 6. The company or organization has been performing poorly from an economic standpoint. Have contracts been lost (consistently), or fewer customers or clients patronizing the establishment? Has management struggled and scrambled to recoup some of the lost revenue, perhaps by prioritizing fundraising initiatives, which may not otherwise be a priority at the company? Has a professional fundraiser been brought into the company in short order? 7. The company or organization is loathe or unable to be transparent about its finances to staff or to its stakeholders, such as a board of directors. Businesses' primary objective is to generate revenue. Survival of the fittest is a frequent characteristic of the global economy. 8. Can your job or position be outsourced easily? Many major corporations and companies have chosen to uproot domestic jobs in favor of cheaper labor elsewhere. In the sluggish economy, companies are getting better at doing with less, and requiring employees to fill multiple roles to save themselves from the pink slip queue. 9. Is your job or position being duplicated in the community? Certain companies, organizations and industries may not be able to sustain like-minded services and still compete as the established product or service. 10. Are your professional achievements undervalued? Territorial behavior does exist. So does professional envy.
Quick Remedies1. Document all your professional milestones in the last year and a half (i.e. achievements, accomplishments, etc.). The most crucial is to show how you have saved/made an employer money, saved time and/or improved something. Employers have a one track mind. 2. Know your allies at work. Get support immediately. Receiving the pink slip unexpectedly hurts enough, unless you have a support network to soften the blow. Support starts from home and extends into the workplace with trusted colleagues who can vouch for your achievements and accomplishments. 3. Get testimonials (letters of reference, etc) from colleagues or someone who knows your work performance and ethics intimately. Advance further and get testimonials online. Remember, your online identity is priceless. Use LinkedIn testimonials to your advantage. At least you will have online testimonials that are visible and speak to your professional integrity. 4. Grieve the loss of your job. Remember J.T O'Donnell's comment? Losing a job translates to losing one's identity, at least in North American society. 5. Be aware (just aware) of the cycle of unemployment (the signs resemble the stages of grief). Each individual grieves differently. 6. Get professional help to deal with point #5, if necessary. 7. Have a job search plan and hire a coach to devise a strategy that is winnable for you. 8. Take solace that layoffs rarely reflect you personally (though it may seem so, in a painful way). They reflect economics more often that not. 9. Take advantage of training or new training. 10. Volunteer your time. Elevate your self-esteem and contribute to the community. In closing, powerhouse Brian Tracy has a brilliant tactic to uplift you in turbulent times:
"Practice being an inverse paranoid, convinced that there is a vast conspiracy to make u successful."WOW! And I love to quote the ancient Romans, "Fortune favors the bold." Go out and be productive in your life and watch out for the above layoff signs! Photo Credit: Shutterstock