This is something that has been repeated frequently in the last couple of weeks. I have had discussions with many who have been affected by resource actions, the politically correct way of saying lay off, at companies like IBM, Merck, AMD, Dell,….
I was talking last week with a former IBM colleague (by the way I left IBM after 22 years in 2000 on my terms), who was affected by the resource action. She had been with IBM for 33 years and received a 1 rating on her last performance review. She was devastated.
I kept telling her, it is not about you!
Remember that people do what people do
Organizations do what organizations think they need to do.
Organizational decisions are most often made by someone who does not even know you. If they do, your past history of landing on your feet tends to signal you will simply do that once again.
It is not about you!
Two Sides of Resource Actions
Unfortunately, I have been on both sides of this equation.
I was in management of a rapidly collapsing technology company in 2002, and I was on a team to rank everyone in the area. We knew why we were doing this. A young man in his mid-20s sank to the bottom of the list. He did not work for me but a peer manager. We all had received handsome retention bonuses over the previous year. He was within two weeks of putting a down payment on a house.
I did the right thing and took him to lunch. I told him he would likely get laid off and should not buy the house. Within a month there was a resource action. He did not buy the house.
I ran into this young man three years later. He went two years unemployed, moved back in with his parents, but he did not lose a house or go bankrupt. He thanked me profusely.
This was a miserable experience.
Later in the year, I had a bicycle accident that changed my perspective on life. This led me to decide to volunteer for the next resource action. I was laid off, but it was on my terms.
I knew it was not about me.
What to do next?
First thing is to take a deep breath. Remember it is not about you. You did nothing wrong.
- Share the Shock – Reach out, connect, and once you reground a bit, start on your new plan. Create a fan club of people who know and care about you.
- Opt for the Opportunity – This is also the time you’ve been waiting for even if it is not the first choice in the timing.
- Assess your Entire Situation – This is a great time to reassess everything. Home, expenses, family responsibilities,….. Are you still paying bills for your adult children? Is the home too big for you now? What kind of car are you driving? My favorite book is Repacking Your Bags: Lighten Your Load for the Good Life to help you through this process.
Sometimes we need the kick in the butt to do something we really want to do.
Take the next few weeks to decompress. It is not about you! You can then make plans for the rest of your life.
If you are an IBMer who has recently been affected by this Resource Action I would like to hear your story. I am considering building a support group for exiting IBMers. Contact me at the e-mail address at the top of this page.