I’m sitting in a Starbucks in a strip mall in exurban America, listening to their musical mix of ballads by French singers. I think they’re French, anyway. Maybe Brazilian or something else. Hard to say, but they’re all sounding melancholy and deep. I’ve got a big-ass cup of green tea on the table in front of me, and I’m positioned with a good view of the entrance of a massive liquor store that’s got a regular flow of folks going in and out.
It’s Friday night, and I am so relieved.
First, because I’m not going to be laid off (yet). I’ve been informed that I’ve got a job for the forseeable future.
Second, because I wasn’t completely nuts and paranoid, thinking I was going to be laid off. ‘Cause I came this close.
Here’s how things shook out this past week: Monday and Tuesday were pretty intense, because I had reckoned that I was going to get laid off that week. People were acting weird towards me at work, nobody was emailing me, and the absence of my team was particularly noticeable. Some organizational announcements were made with some allusions to new roles and new divisions and what-not. But other than that, nothing definitive was communicated to me about my situation.
Wednesday, I actually talked to the uber-boss on the phone while they were offsite meeting with HQ. They were not having a very productive time of things at HQ, but they did tell me that my job was safe — and I’m actually being considered for a more prominent role involving more leadership in the group. Where exactly that is going to be situated in the company, I’m not sure (nobody is, just yet), but the bottom line was, the folks at HQ have a lot of respect for me and they want to use my experience more than it’s being used now.
So, that was good news. Nothing definite, but a heck of a lot more promising than the vibe I was getting before my team all left on Friday.
Thursday, we had a visit from executive leadership, and they gave us a rousing pep talk and big-picture spiel that was actually pretty inspiring. It was a whole lot better than the half-assed prognostications that everybody’s been involved in. I got a very clear sense that there is a definite vision in place for the future, and executive leadership is really behind it — innovation, change, and all that. Sure, it was a lot of conceptual stuff, and who knows how much of what they’re planning will actually happen, but it’s a mission. It’s a vision. It’s a goal. And that’s more than I had on Monday or Tuesday or Wednesday.
Thursday afternoon, after the big C-level whoop-de-do, the uber-uber-boss called a meeting and informed everybody of what’s going in the division. Basically, we all get to keep our jobs — or rather, we get to stay employed. Our jobs will surely be changing, and nothing will be certain for a number of weeks, yet, but the bottom line is, we don’t have to all brush up on our resumes and go looking, for the foreseeable future.
It wasn’t always that way, though. Apparently, over the past months, there’s been a lot of back-and-forth going on between HQ and the division about who’s needed, what jobs need to be done, etc. etc. And apparently, only a few months ago, people at HQ were assuming that my division would be drastically cut, because there are so many of us. But then something changed and the cuts got scaled back. Only a few folks would be going away. But my team’s uber-boss was going to have to cut one person. They were told they couldn’t keep everyone – one person would need to go. And I’m guessing (I’d bet good money on it, too) that I was their prime candidate. I know I’ve really worked upper management’s last nerve a bunch of times, and I don’t genuflect the way everyone else does, so I’d make a really great candidate to get cut.
I believe that’s what was going on last week — when things were weird, I’m sure that my head was on the chopping block. But then… the uber-boss went to HQ, and apparently people there were talking really highly of me. I should hope so — it’s not that I’m all conceited and what-not. It’s just that I’ve gone out of my way to be courteous and friendly and collegial with folks there, and I’ve not made a secret of my in-depth experience and my strong opinions that are based on that experience. I’ve been straightforward and up-front with everyone at the top, admitting my flaws and shortcomings, while making sure they know about my strengths and experiences and my eagerness to make right the things that get screwed up. So they have no reason at all to think poorly of me. I’ve been nothing but professional towards them, and I know they appreciate it. They’re actually happy to see me, when we run into each other, every now and then — it’s not that fake posing that I detest, either. It’s genuine friendliness. On both our sides.
This is in sharp contrast to the behavior of the rest of my team who have followed the uber-boss’es lead. They tend to be defensive and closed and stand-off-ish, and posturing like they’re so much better than the wonks in HQ. What’s the point in that? It’s time to build bridges, folks — the people in charge are still people, and they look to us for help and support, so why not give it to them — and then some?
Interestingly (and not unpredictably) the uber-boss got totally brushed off when they went to HQ. Out of three long days, they only got to spend a few hours with the folks in charge, which was about as much of a brush-off as you can give someone, imho. And the time when they did meet, they talked about me in positive ways. Can you tell I’m pleased?
So, just acting like a decent human being has paid off 100%. And acting like a jerk is not getting people anywhere. Karma’s fun, when it works out. But of course, I’ve earned it.
I’m quite happy tonight. Relieved. And not just because I’m in a really good position with the folks in HQ, but because I was NOT being brain-injured, delusional and paranoid in think that something was wrong with my immediate team. Because I was in danger of being laid off. Very much so. I’d bet money that the uber-boss was going over with the intention of nominating me for the axe. But it didn’t turn out that way at all.
I’m still here. I’m still standing. I’m not crazy for suspecting things were stacking up against me. But rather than having to go down in flames, it could be that I’m actually going to make out better in the organization than I’d expected, which pleases me more than words can say. Truly.
Of course, we live in an interesting world, so all of this could change next week. But right now, it’s Friday night, I’ve got a cozy chair in a corner of a little Starbucks with my big cup of tea, and I’m feeling quite fine.
I’ve been vindicated. I’ve been spared. And it might turn out that this re-org works 100% in my favor in ways I never dreamed possible.
For tonight, life is really good, so I’m going to bask in the glow while I can.