In the last few weeks alone, over 11,000 households have woken up to newspaper articles and media outlets telling the world that their jobs in supermarkets, fashion retail and banking will be going.
Multi-award-winning career development coach Carolyn Parry, founder of Career Alchemy and one of the UK’s top career coaches, shares three top tips she teaches to clients which will help anyone affected by the threat of redundancy to stay positive despite the uncertainty.
Having been one of the individuals whose post was the subject of cost-cutting a few years back in an organisation which was restructuring, I can still remember the elements of the experience which jarred the most: the dry legal wording of HR’s At Risk Consultation Notice and Notification of Redundancy letters which needed to be there, but which was devoid of the language of emotional intelligence; the awkwardness that other colleagues felt towards me as they didn’t know how to react; the challenge to and fear of losing my professional identify; and perhaps most of all, the worries about the financial impact on my family of losing a good salary and concerns about being able to pay the mortgage.
While all these elements are no surprise to anyone who has been or is going through redundancy, what I realised when I looked back and also see clearly time and time again through the work I do now helping clients in the same situation, is that there is one key thing which HR processes systematically fail to address.
When our identity is challenged by circumstances like redundancy which feels like an attack, a roller coaster of emotions is let loose and becomes the stampeding elephant in the room which no one ever discusses at work, though they should.
So, if you are facing job uncertainty, I’d like to offer these three tips to help you recognise your emotions and manage them as well as you can, so you come out the other side as unscathed and resourceful as possible.
1. Recognise the different emotions you are going through
It’s OK to feel what you are feeling. Austrian psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross did some ground-breaking work which in a management context is often known as the Change Curve. She identified that in response to a shock, people experience five specific emotional states: denial; anger; bargaining; depression and acceptance. Understanding and being able to label the different emotions will legitimise what you are feeling and help you to feel more in control.
2. Manage your state
According to neuroscientists, it takes about 90 seconds for the chemicals of emotion to wash through us. As Viktor Frankl, the psychologist and Holocaust survivor said: “Between stimulus and response there is space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” If we recognise and sit with the stimulus of emotion as it washes through us, we can find that space and choose our response.
To change your state you can choose to take a couple of deep and slow, conscious, breaths to regain balance. Alternatively, recall the image of a time or experience when you felt fantastic in your mind’s eye, or if you respond well to music, simply hear one of your favorite and uplifting tracks in your head. Use any of these techniques and your emotional state will change for the better.
3. Practice self-care
Managing your reputation by being professional at all times while at risk of redundancy is always a good strategy particularly if it is likely that you will have to reapply for the post you are currently in.
Although the world of work is riddled with tight deadlines these days, however, unless you work in a role where lives really are at risk or real deadlines apply eg production slots or similar, if you don’t answer immediately no one will die - most emails can wait a few moments!
Make sure you factor in some time for self-care. Stepping out of the building for a few minutes after the latest email from HR, will enable you to calm your emotions and regain perspective and your manager and colleagues should understand that. If they don’t, explain to them appropriately!
Dealing with your own and other people’s emotions is very tiring, so make sure you take a break. Have that cup of coffee, keep hydrated, eat lunch, go for a walk, play sport, meditate or do whatever else helps you to regroup.
It’s also important to keep in mind Carl Jung’s words: “I am not what has happened to me. I am what I choose to become.” Doing so will help your mind to focus on moving forward to new and better possibilities rather than keeping you unhelpfully anchored in the emotion of what may soon become the past.
Finally, it may have been some while since you last applied so make sure you hone your application and interview skills whether you decide to go for redeployment opportunities or to apply elsewhere.
In the last year alone, Career Alchemy has helped almost 500 professionals do just that, enabling them to navigate their way to a brighter future for them and their loved ones and we can help you do the same too.
Because I want to provide support to many more people than the logistics of face to face workshops allow, I am running a number of live online Facing Job Uncertainty webinars that take place after work, are affordable, and which you can join from the comfort of your own home.
You can find out more about the individual courses, how to access the recordings afterwards, the booklets that accompany them and the ongoing post course forum support available to you on our Facing Job Uncertainty page.
Sadly, the reality of today’s workplace is that the latest news of high-volume redundancies won’t be the last time banks, retailers and organisations in pretty well every other sector will have to cut costs by simplifying and reducing processes and admin tasks.
The stigma of redundancy is rapidly receding as it becomes the norm for organisations to restructure and reduce staff numbers in their struggle to develop sustainable businesses. We have the increasingly competitive and challenging global and Brexit business environments and automation to thank for that.
ABOUT THIS BLOG
Designed for professionals, the Career Alchemy blog mixes news, career trends and philosophy with "how to" advice to help you achieve happiness and success in your working life, no matter how much the world of work is changing.