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Dealing With Difficult Decisions & Conversations - Redundancy

Updated: Apr 4, 2020

In this Mindful Conversation, Davina speaks to Karen Kwong, Founder of RenOc - watch the full interview above or read the article How to deal with being made redundant and what to do next below which initially appeared in the Metro by Karen Kwong (30th Sept 2019).

Davina speaks to Karen about the difficult topic of making hard people decisions such as letting people go and why it puts many business owners and managers into paralysis. She gives some great advice about why not putting your head in the sand is important and that looking for solutions through speaking to stakeholders can help find a third way. 

Davina also offers a 2 minute meditation technique (7:15secs) and guides Karen through it to find a sense of safety in the body when difficult emotions arise. 

1:20 mins Karen talks about how some of her clients are in a state of paralysis on the subject and unable to make clear decisions

3:45 mins Karen talks about finding a third way to find solutions and taking charge of the situation and not being embraced to have difficult conversations 

5:00 mins Karen recommends talking to a coach, unloading the burden, writing everything down in a journal to create some space in your thinking and talking to your team and stakeholders to find a different perspective 

7:15 mins Davina talks about how meditation can help create a different perspective but how we can have everything we need physically met but still feel ‘unsafe’ 

8:30 mins Davina teaches a 2 minute meditation technique to use several times a day to create a felt-sense of safety in the body and mind 

How to deal with being made redundant and what to do next?

That horrible sinking feeling when you’re at work and you’ve been tapped on your shoulder or received a call on your work phone to head to HR for a meeting.

You might have been warned about upcoming redundancies.  But no matter how prepared you are, and even if you requested redundancy, reality is a whole new cold shower.  Even worse if your redundancy is wholly unexpected and you’re the only one.

‘Failure’ mindset

Many thoughts will be running through your head.  Why me?  What next?  OMG - all my bills, responsibilities??  Will I get a new job?  When will I get a new job?  How will I cope until then?  What do I tell people?  Am I a failure?  

It’s easy to slip into ‘failure’ mode.  After all, the message is that you’ve been told ‘no’ you don’t belong somewhere and so it must be you.  It’s easy to make that assumption. 

This is something that needs to be addressed quickly, honestly and before you do anything else.  If you don’t, all your next steps will not serve you as well as you’d like:  

Quickly - because if you don’t address this, it will impact your decisions.  Honestly - because if you don’t look at the why, you won’t solve the problem and it will happen again and again.  You may have been made redundant because the company isn’t making as much money as it used to.  Maybe because the department in which you’re working is no longer as valid.  Maybe because changes are being made and your role doesn’t fit.  These are usually external factors that are not in your control - so how does this make you a failure?  That said, there might be some of your contribution to the above or for other reasons.  Maybe you’re not as skilled as you think you are.  Maybe it is politics, but either way, if you were that good, they might have kept you.  But maybe you’ve outgrown that role or culturally if it is a political place, maybe you should work somewhere else that wants you and your skills.  And if you have outgrown the place, think of this as a gift and make sure that you always are on the look out for roles that suit you.  And if you were not good enough, what can you do going forward to make sure you’re never caught on the back foot again and how to ensure you remain skilled in a competitive market. 

None of these make you failures.  They’re just reminders for you to make sure you’re doing the right thing for you - eg keeping skilled and developing your competencies or working in a place that supports you and wants you to succeed.  Don’t become complacent - you should invest your efforts not just in your work bit in you and your career.  Always, even if you’re the CEO of your company.  Keep learning.  It’s not a failure to be made redundant - in fact, it’s often a blessing in disguise.  

Practical steps:

·      The first thing to do is not panic.  Now, no one ever in the world has ever ‘calmed down’ when told to do so.  Same as panic.  However, pull all your self-care practices (eg exercise, sleep, mindfulness etc) to get you where you need to be.  Panicking ALWAYS leads to rushed and bad decisions.  ALWAYS.  And bad decisions means rushing into a job you don’t want and that is wrong for you.  Panicking means doing things like being unfocused in your search, being incoherent in interviews and underperforming in tests and assessments.  Slow, steady, thoughtful and considered is where you need to be

·      Update your CV and your LinkedIn.  Think hard about not just your roles and competencies but also your strengths as a human and what you’ll bring to the party

·      Think about what you really want - job role, salary, culture, home life, learning opportunities - do you want more of the same (like really want more of the same?) or something different?  Or something you can grow into?  Or something with travel?  Or working from home?  Or..  If you end up working for yourself or starting your own business - what are you good at and less good at and how can you retrain or balance that out?

·      Is this an opportunity to retrain or do further education?  Or change careers completely?

·      Get out there and network.  Meet up with people who might be able to introduce you or might have advice for you.  Do note, most people have good intentions but not necessarily advice that works for you.  There is a difference between good advice and people telling you what you want (as opposed to need).  Also remember that sometimes people project their fears and uncertainties onto you.  Eg you must work in an office for someone else (ie stability and regular salary) vs working as a consultant 

·      Review your finances and cut expenditure where you can and create a budget.  Additionally, consider part time work if you need money or interning if you need experience 

·      Be open to talking to new people and to experiences.  Although it’s good to know what you want, sometimes you may not really know what you want if you don’t try new or less ‘to the plan’ experiences  

It will work out with where you want to go.  Being made redundant can really be a gift to rejuvenate you and to drive you forward.  See it as an opportunity to create change for yourself vs it being a burden.  

As an aside, always make sure you update your CV and LinkedIn, even whilst in a stable job.  Giving yourself an edge is good for you.  Take advantage of all the training available offered by your company or pay for it yourself.  Get yourself a mentor or coach and keep learning - about yourself and to increase your skills.  It means you can negotiate the best salary with your current employer, be prepared for a promotion if there is the opportunity and leave to go elsewhere if appropriate.  

This article originally appeared on RenOc and Karen Kwong can be reached through her website.

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