Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Pink Slipped

So I am back in the job market again.   AGAIN.

Last month - and for the first time in my career - I got laid off from a job.  The agency in which I was working had been steadily declining during (and even before) the time I was there.  The most recent round of layoffs unfortunately included me.  It was a weird experience for me.  I've been on the other side of the table many times, having to terminate an employee for one reason or another.  And to be honest, I'm not sure which side of the table is more difficult.   Of course, nobody wants to hear that they are about to lose their job, but it's also pretty hard to tell someone that very same thing.

Over the years, I would guess I've terminated about a dozen or so people, which is thankfully a small number.  My strategy is typically to somehow convince people to quit before I have to fire them.  But I'll admit that I've actually gotten quite good at terminating employees.  I'm no Ryan Bingham, but I've adopted a technique that has worked well for me by making the termination conversation less about the employees losing their jobs and using it more as an opportunity to discuss their strengths in order to help them figure out what they should do next.  Using a 60-minute time frame as an example, if a termination conversation is an hour, the actual termination part is only 20 seconds of that hour with the rest of the time being devoted to rebuilding confidence and figuring out strengths and goals.  I've found that it helps restore hope.  And maybe the termination can be taken less personally.

Being an HR professional, I saw my layoff coming (I'd be a pretty pathetic HR professional if I couldn't spot a problem).  One of my duties in my discipline is to spot trouble before it escalates and gets out of hand.  I started putting 2 and 2 together about six weeks before the actual conversation date.  I even had a hunch what day it would take place.  The only thing I didn't know was who would be involved in the conversation.  I expected my direct supervisor.  I didn't expect the participation of the CEO.  Her presence threw me and was, frankly, unnecessary.  But the conversation ended up being pretty textbook.

Being laid off is just being fired through no fault of your own.  The company failed somehow and now you have to pay the price of that failure.  Whether laid-off or fired, the end result is still the same:  out of a job.

I am trying to convince myself, as is my husband, that this situation is in no way going to mirror that which happened in Miami.  My real fear of being unemployed isn't that we will experience financial difficulty, but rather MY unemployment will somehow prevent my husband from being able to pursue something he would otherwise want to do.  This is all crap, of course, but I can't help but think this way.  And one can ONLY think this way if you've gone through this situation.  The thing that is different this time as opposed to Miami is that there is movement now - lots of phone interviews and in-person interviews and interest, which I had none of in Florida.  So I at least feel better, more hopeful.

So I spend my days on LinkedIn, Indeed, NPO, TheLadders, and about 10 other HR sites.  I even stick my nose on Craigslist now and then.  And in-between I am assuaging my conscience by mowing the lawn, doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and doing the shopping and all the errands.

So if you know of anyone looking for a great HR person....