Ha! Twice vindicated!

How you like me now?

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.

So there.

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.


All I need to learn

There’s a lot of ground to travel

So, I talked to the uber-boss today, and to be honest, they were pretty decent about things. As it turns out, nothing definite has been determined for who goes where — and when. So, it could be that this change is more about opportunity inside the company – in a different division – than outside it.

Only time will tell. Best case scenario: I get a kind of promotion and get to run things. Next-best-case scenario: I get laid off with a severance package and move on to other vistas. Or I could end up being stuck where I am with the people who treat me poorly, which would not be great, but would be what I have been expecting to do for the next four months or so.

I’m trying to stay open. I’m trying to stay flexible. I’m trying to not let my rigidity get the better of me. It is hard going.

What I’ve learned from this whole thing is — I cannot afford to let myself get complacent and content and too comfortable. I need to keep learning, keep stretching, keep aligned with my own ultimate goals, and keep moving towards them, no matter how comfortable things may be at the time. That doesn’t last. And when it changes, it is WAY too traumatic for me.

I feel like total crap, after the past two days of worry and stress. It just took it out of me. For no good reason other than that I was not prepared for the eventualities.

Now, in all fairness, nobody can be 100% prepared for any eventuality, but it doesn’t hurt to be a little prepared. And I wasn’t even a little prepared. I lost sight of what I most want to do for a living, and I let things slide because, well, it was pretty much all taken care of for me, so long as I went along and did as I was told. And in the process, I lost my edge. I lost my competitive advantage. And as a result, when things started to shift, I freaked out. Lost it. Lost my sh*t.

And that’s no good.

So, let that be a lesson to me — I don’t have a lot of time to screw around and waste hours on nothing-nothing-and-more-nothing. And I can’t afford to lose sight of the things I love most, that I want to do most. Ample opportunities have arisen for me to keep my skills sharp, but I drifted away. I fell out of touch. And that turned out to really be a problem.

There are no guarantees in life, and “security” is a hollow promise that makes you feel good about your choices, but never really comes true. Not for real. There is always something that gets in the way, that trips you up. Always.

Unless you do something about it. Unless you take steps. Unless you strengthen yourself so that even when insecurity and uncertainty sets in, you can hold your own and keep it together, and stay open to the magic of surprise opportunities. This involves regular study. This involves taking care of body and mind and soul. It involves keeping fit and being rested, because you never know what tomorrow will bring – and especially if it’s good, you want to be up for the challenge. For sure.

That being said, it’s time for me to spend a little time brushing up on some of my skills and practice what I love to do. I can’t say I’ll never be caught off-guard again, but if I am, at least I can be ready to roll, rather than fall flat on my face.


Still waiting…

So, the organizational announcements have been coming down for the past two days, and things are definitely shifting around. Things that were built up over the past 10 years are being torn down and replaced by something else, and nobody knows just where the fit in the new organization. But so far there’s no sign of layoffs. The black cloud is still hanging over people’s heads, and it’s pretty tough to get any work done, but I’m hanging in there. I’ve dressed my best over the past two days, and people have definitely noticed. But the good clothes are cramping my style, and I’m ready to let go of that. I’ve got my letter for my file written up and printed out, just in case. I’m pretty much ready for whatever comes, I think.

I met with my neuropsych yesterday to talk about what’s been going on, and sort things through… and in the process of discussing things, I realized how I had let this situation get to me and get up in my head. I try not to let it get the better of me, but I have to admit… it was. I got some good input from my NP, which helped me get some wider perspective. It’s amazing how helpful it can be just talking things through with someone who knows how our heads can play tricks on us and make us profoundly unhappy for no apparent reason, and who refuses to get sucked into the drama for no good reason.

Most people I know are on the opposite end of the spectrum – they think everything they feel and think is the God’s truth, and they go with it — even when the have plenty of experience with that belief taking them down a very dark and unhappy path. Most people I know don’t question their thinking/feeling, because it’s just about the only thing they feel sure of. The fact that it messes them up, time and time again, doesn’t change their behavior – they just keep believing in all the thinking/feeling that messes them up, thinking that it will save them. Fortunately, my NP knows better, and it was good to have an actual logical discussion about the situation, and realize that I might be making it worse for myself than need be.

Now, re-orgs are stressful, no doubt about it. It’s really hell at times. And the prospect of layoffs is daunting. The thing is, I got caught up in focusing on the wrong stuff — all the negative stuff that I automatically jump to, when things are getting tough. Now that I consider it, I realize that I was most freaked out about not having the additional time to prepare for re-entry to the job market, and that put me on the defensive — a real threat situation.  I think it’s just an instinct with me — I must protect me-and-mine against threats — but in protecting myself from threats, it puts me in a frame of mind that is not receptive and is not open to new ideas. It locks me down in the worst way, and that’s a problem. Especially in times of change, when I need all my faculties about me more than ever.

So, I’m widening my perspective and I’m considering the possibility that the upset around me in my team isn’t because I’m going to get laid off, but because things are simply changing and everyone is stressed and uncertain and not sure what’s to come. I am way too sensitive to other people’s “stuff,” actually, and I need to do better at blocking it out. I especially need to not accept their invitation to get pulled into all their drama — misery loves company, for sure. It doesn’t help me to get caught up in their drama (it is usually their drama, not mine), and it doesn’t help to keep everyone around me calm and feeling stable.

So, I need to get a grip, remember who I am, work on my stability, and not let others get me tweaked because they’re all into their recreational upset. High-strung people are always going to seek me out, looking for some sort of comfort and reassurance, and it’s not helping them (or me) when I get pulled into their high-strung thinking and then get stressed and worried, myself. There is more to this job situation than meets the eye, and I’m just finding out a lot of it, so maybe I need to just trust that it’s all going to be fine.

Maybe I need to entertain other possibilities — like, I might get promoted or moved to another job. The thought had occurred to me – I’m either going to get laid off or promoted… but I chose to focus on the layoff piece of it. In a way, that would be as stressful for my coworkers as me getting laid off, because they wouldn’t have access to my skillset anymore. So, maybe that’s what this is about.

It could be… anything. I just don’t know. And that’s the most nerve-wracking thing. I just don’t know.

But I will find out.

Until then, I need to just keep calm and keep plugging away. What comes, will come. It’s up to me to decide how I will handle it when it does come down. Because when it comes to crisis, heck yeah, I know how to do that.

It’s just the waiting game that makes me nuts.

Yada-yada… Enough talk. Enough thinking. Time to get moving.


Live blogging from layoff-central

The herd is about to be thinned

Actually, I’m not at layoff-central right now – I’m at the public library down the street where I can get my own internet access on my own computer, login to WordPress, and get away from the generally unhappy atmosphere at work.

I just overheard the librarian here saying, “Times are tough…” and she would be right about that.

This is very hard for people. The tension is very thick at work, and it’s very glum and bleak-feeling. I’m not sure which is worse – being on the “chopping block” or being left behind. No, I know which one is worse – it’s being left behind. Because then you have to do twice the work with half the people, and you don’t have the same expertise as the folks who left, so you have to work that much harder to keep up. And you don’t know whether to be happy that you don’t have to look for another job, or to be unhappy that you don’t GET to look for another job.

The suspense is killing me. I’m pretty tired, as it is, from a very busy  and physically active weekend, followed by a late trip to the airport to pick up my spouse, and then this morning being sick and my spouse being sick, and some things I did over the weekend getting screwed up and having to fix them before I left the house to go to work.

To work… I was really conscious of the fact that I might not ever be doing that commute again. And ironically the drive just flew by, because it was such a beautiful morning, and I was noticing every little detail about it. I tried to be really present as I drove, just soaking up what good stuff I could get. But my hands were really shaking, and I felt sick and trampled and un-needed… expendable, like I didn’t matter anymore.

Oh, screw them. Really. (Now I come to the anger part of my grieving process.) I seriously considered changing my computer password to FUCKY0U – with a zero instead of an “O” for added password security 😉 Then I realized that the person who would be unlocking my computer when I’m gone is probably going feel like crap, already, and I don’t need to take it out on them, when it’s the company, not them, that’s making these changes.

So, I nixed that idea – tho’ I must admit I got an evil smile out of it, when I thought about doing it.

And I paid attention to my drive.

And when I got to work, I pulled on my good dress coat over my best suit (one of our reader community suggested that I dress well for my exit interview, and I did – pulling out my best dress shirt and suit and making sure I had good socks to wear). I pulled myself together and strode into the office like I owned it.

Just one last time.

And then I got to work.

It’s been extremely hard going today. The layoff is a huge elephant in the room, and nobody is saying anything about it, because I don’t think anyone knows anything for sure — all we know is that it really sucks. After years of being reassured by HQ that the division would be allowed to continue as it is, that’s all about to change, and between the sense of helplessness and the sense of loss and the sense of betrayal, it’s hard to concentrate on much of anything.

So, I wait for the word… I will be at the library for another half hour or so, then it’s back to the office to finish up. I had anticipated having another couple of weeks to finish things up, but they may just tell us to go home and not come back. That has happened to people already – just pack up the workspace and go home. No handoffs, no transition. Just boom. That’s it.

And I really feel for my coworkers, because they are basically screwed without the knowledge and experience I have. I’m not being conceited – it’s true, that I have made a point of learning to do all the things that others don’t want to do, and I’ve made a point of doing them very well. So, there’s a massive learning curve, and some of it will never be learned, because it comes from 17+ years of on-the-job experience, and nobody in my group who does what I do has more than 10 years “in the saddle”. Most of them have maybe 4-5 years, that’s it.

Yeah, it will be much easier to go, than to stay.

But still, my hands are shaking, my gut feels like it’s filled with iron shavings, and my head is pounding.

Keeping it together under conditions like this… it’s hard work. But I’ll survive.

I just wish they’d make the announcement and get it over with, already.

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