May 9, 2012 in True Strength, Strengths & Weaknesses, My thoughts

The opportunity of redundancy


The word ‘redundancy’ has so many negative connotations associated with it and it would be easy for people facing redundancy to feel like they’ve failed, to be worried, to feel like they’re not in control. They’re not the feelings I associate with redundancy. I think of opportunity, of excitement, of being in charge of your own destiny.


I’m not saying those things as a coach, reframing a challenge to help you see the positives; I’m saying those things as somebody who was ‘made’ redundant three years ago. The sense of opportunity, of excitement and of being in control was how I felt at the time and is most definitely how I feel now. I’m not even keen on the word ‘made’ as it makes it sounds like I was the victim of something that happened to me; not at all.


I’d had a good career with my employer; Some of my roles I’d loved, and the ones that I didn’t quite love were still fine. In my final two roles, I’d led a number of reorganisations with people applying for their own jobs before, somewhat ironically, becoming part of a wider reorganisation that meant my job no longer existed. And that started the journey of meetings with my boss with a HR business partner present, formal displacement letters, and eventually my final day in when I handed over my laptop, mobile phone and security pass! And I am so thankful that it happened.


On reflection, here are three of the things that helped me approach it as I did:


1 – Being really clear on the vision for my career
I know what I want to achieve in my working life. For quite some time, I’ve had a vision of what I want to have done by the time I retire; of how I want to play to my strengths and make an impact. For me, the opportunity of redundancy was something that helped me make a huge leap forwards towards that vision. For those that like imagery, I picture a career as being like a really long walk in the countryside; If you know your ultimate destination, then it makes choosing your path a lot easier and you can easily cope when the path that you’re on closes and you just need to find new paths to the destination, some of which might even be quicker and easier!


2 – Knowing that everything will be OK
I did have a few brief moments of worry throughout the process, but the things I knew about resilience helped me; I’d simply imagine how I’d reflect back on the situation in future years, knowing that I’d likely find that the experience would have been a great help to me and even the worst-case scenario was that I’d just be reflecting back on a minor blip. I really like the metaphor that’s sometimes used about resilience, looking at how it is only through the grit of adversity that an oyster can produce a pearl. That really describes my own experiences as I have learned the most from some of the tougher times.


3 – Having a support network
I’m a firm believer in the value of having a good support network of people who can coach, mentor, support and challenge and I’ve always made an effort to have a good support network as well as being there for other people. In times of change and opportunity, a support network is crucial. If you haven’t got one, then create one. I can’t even begin to describe how valuable this was, and continues to be, for me.


And that brings me to now. I absolutely love what I do. Every day, I get to play to my strengths, to do something that I’m really good at and to make a difference. My honest answer to the ‘What would you do if you won the Lottery?’ question is that I’d keep doing what I do now (although I might do some of it in a sunnier climate!). I don’t think I’d have reached this point yet had I not been ‘made’ redundant. Redundancy is an exciting opportunity in which you’re still in control. Viewing it like that is what makes it so.


(If this post looks familiar to anybody, that may be because I wrote it for the CIPD Manchester Branch Newsletter)

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