Laid off? Downsized? What did you learn?

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#1
Have you been:

  • Laid off?
  • Downsized?
What did you learn?

It's been my observation most folks who get laid off have succumbed to "Stockholm Syndrome"
Wikipedia said:
(Wikipedia)
Stockholm syndrome is a psychological response sometimes seen in abducted hostages, in which the hostage shows signs of loyalty to the hostage-taker, regardless of the danger or risk in which they have been placed. The syndrome is named after the Norrmalmstorg robbery of Kreditbanken at Norrmalmstorg, Stockholm, Sweden, in which the bank robbers held bank employees hostage from August 23 to August 28 in 1973. In this case, the victims became emotionally attached to their victimizers, and even defended their captors after they were freed from their six-day ordeal. The term "Stockholm Syndrome" was coined by the criminologist and psychiatrist Nils Bejerot, who assisted the police during the robbery, and referred to the syndrome in a news broadcast.
because I read and hear comments like:

  • "They [the bosses] couldn't help it."
  • "It was nobody's fault."
  • "It was the economy."
Those comments, in my own not so humble opinion, are pure "male bovine feces!"

Let me ask folks who find themselves mouthing such drivel:

  1. "Did the layoff come as an utter surprise to you?
  2. "Did you think everything was hunky dory right up to the minute you found yourself on the street with a cardboard file box of your personal belongings?
  3. "Do you think it was a surprise to the bosses who laid you off?"
OR:

  1. "Were you aware it was inevitable and only stuck around to collect a paycheck while you looked for greener pastures?
  2. "Did you formulate any "offers in compromise" [to being laid off], such as cut hours?
    [my advice: cut hours, not pay rate - maybe you can pick up some part-time work to make up the difference in take home pay.]
  3. "Did you have an on-going, two-way conversation with the bosses on the status of the organization and your job in particular?"
Can you see where I'm headed with this thread?
There are tried and true methods to prevent yourself from becoming an unknowing pawn in some "big boys' game of chess." You owe it to yourself and family to make yourself as invulnerable as possible to harm when you work for an organization. You need extra awareness when you are a consultant or contractor doing business with an organization and ensure you get paid, not involuntarily subsidize some boss's monthly payment on his Lexus or Maserati. The only way to keep score in a miserable economy like this present one is whether you can cash your current paycheck and whether you can reasonably expect the next one not to bounce.

I did a lot of flying on my recent vacation, before and after that jet sucked up a couple of birds and miraculously landed in the river, rescuing all passengers and crew from a horrifying death. Before, of course, I merely drowsed through the safety drill by the airline hostesses. Afterward, I paid real close attention and one theme struck me like a lightning bolt: Take care of yourself first before you help someone else! (If you can't breathe or float, how on earth are you going to help anyone else, anyway?)

If you are riding a plane and all the oxygen masks drop from the ceiling, are you going to sit there and watch everyone else's efforts before you put on your own mask? I hope not. So, if it makes sense to take care of yourself first when a plane may go down, why wouldn't you use that same sense of self-preservation to take care of yourself when the company is going down? Trust me - the signals in a falling company are just as clear as the signals in a falling plane. The difference is everyone does not have a life vest under the seat in a falling company.

One important point to remember: you won't be the first person in history to get laid off or have a company collapse underneath you. This also means you don't have to reinvent the wheel on what to do if it happens,. More importantly, it means you can use that experience and the experience of hundreds of thousands of others to develop a strategy to assure you don't go from the frying pan directly into the fire when hooking up with a new organization.

Some of the saddest tales I read and hear are those where an employee gets laid off, hired by a new organization, and then laid off again, sometimes within a week or two. I have a strong opinion on what transpired or did NOT transpire to engender such a tragic scenario. How about reading some of your opinions before I list mine?
 
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harry

Super Moderator
#2
It is true that in any organization, nobody is 'indispensable'. One of the strategy for survival is how to make yourself indispensable. Some one wrote in a recent and related thread that he doesn't mind doing more things or job and this is an example of one who would be the last to be laid-off - because they are versatile. These are the best candidate to retain if you need to downsize because they can practically fit into any position in an uncertain environment.

Of course, be very good at what you are doing is another strategy to make yourself indispensable. Others may include the ability to be a good team player.
 
X

xavierFR

#3
because they can practically fit into any position in an uncertain environment.
Of course, be very good at what you are doing is another strategy to make yourself indispensable...
Yes but not the easiest of both!
:notme::lol:,

On the other side, "be very good at what you are doing" is it always reconized and promoted as required to motivate everyone to reach this performance?

Sometimes, the top management doesn't seem to respect such good behavior no?
 

harry

Super Moderator
#4
Yes but not the easiest of both!
True. But it does reflect one thing - attitude.

On the other side, "be very good at what you are doing" is it always reconized and promoted as required to motivate everyone to reach this performance?

Sometimes, the top management doesn't seem to respect such good behavior no?
No, it would not be recognized by ALL employers because not all organizations are functional (or deserved to be in existence) but it will be recognized by all co-workers and any others who have dealings with the organization including competitors.
 
X

xavierFR

#5
You are right, and this reinforces idea that your nature could be not linked with your skills.

if you are not skills and laid off, take it cool !
if you are skills and laid off, they loose more than you do!

to reply more seriously Harry,

So, if it makes sense to take care of yourself first when a plane may go down, why wouldn't you use that same sense of self-preservation to take care of yourself when the company is going down? Trust me - the signals in a falling company are just as clear as the signals in a falling plane. The difference is everyone does not have a life vest under the seat in a falling company.
That's why sometimes it's not a surprise to accept to be laid off and this acceptance (honest, not desesperate) to take the door or try to survive to a plane crash is certainly not the same.

If you demonstrate me by 1+1 that I must be lay off I will discuss but can not reject the evidence.
If you demonstrate by 1+1 and give me 1 000 000 times the previous result that I must die I would not be able to believe and try to save my existence with taking your offer too. (when you must survive you do at all)

The conclusion? It seems in your development that you object to notice that our nature molds extremily our behave to react and certainly not the skills.

You have certainly meet people who has not put their job or company in the first plan ever. Without talking the part of people who have been laid off without a real humanly reason. the global industrial crashes that we are living is certainly the best evidence of my second point.

I probably mist a point in your point of view regarding the lack of my english but I work hard to understand the position of everyone.

Waiting friendly to read more about,

:bigwave:
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#6
One thing I've learned over the years is that executives will always lie if they feel it's in their own best interests to do so. There are exceptions, of course, but not enough to prevent me from assuming prevarication in all cases. If the company "leaders" can't be trusted, workers are left with gambling on the outcome. This is the reason that people always need to have a plan.

One way that executives will lie is in trying to make cutbacks seem like some kind of social responsibility movement--when some of the lights are turned off in the plant, it will not be because there's no money to pay the energy bills, it's because the company is "going green." In one instance I know of, a company installed metal detectors at the entrance/exit doors, ostensibly because of what the executives described as "post-9/11 security concerns." The real reason was that a plant shutdown was in the works, and they didn't want workers leaving the building with the products in their pockets (expensive hand tools) after the obligatory shutdown announcement was made. In a more gross display of dishonesty, one company, when faced with rumors of impending layoffs spreading through the workforce, gathered up the employees and assured them that the rumors were not true, and no layoffs were planned. The layoffs followed within a month.

Never assume that everything's OK and that your job is safe. It doesn't matter how "indispensable" you are if the whole company goes kaput. As I've mentioned before, I am a recent victim of a plant closing, and I can't discuss the details but I can tell you that I saw it coming and made plans, while much of the workforce was taken by surprise. Unfortunately, when there are signs of failure and the executives are telling you not to worry, you had better worry, and do something.
 

Wes Bucey

Quite Involved in Discussions
#7
One thing I've learned over the years is that executives will always lie if they feel it's in their own best interests to do so.
<SNIP>
Never assume that everything's OK and that your job is safe. It doesn't matter how "indispensable" you are if the whole company goes kaput. As I've mentioned before, I am a recent victim of a plant closing, and I can't discuss the details but I can tell you that I saw it coming and made plans, while much of the workforce was taken by surprise. Unfortunately, when there are signs of failure and the executives are telling you not to worry, you had better worry, and do something.
Lots of truisms in what Jim writes! Straight out of The Prince by Machiavelli.

I can tell you that I saw it coming
Jim, can you give our readers some tips as to what you saw coming that many coworkers did not? Was this normal due diligence EVERYONE should be performing or was there some single event which raised red flags for you?

made plans
What kind of plans? Did you set aside a "war chest" for the job campaign to come? Did you start to perform extra economizing at home? Did you start to research organizations and re-establish your personal network so the new job hunt would be as efficient as possible? Did you establish a dedicated email address to handle your job hunt related correspondence?

What are your recommendations for other Covers who may be in the same boat, but lack oars and patching material for the leaks?
 

howste

Thaumaturge
Super Moderator
#8
The last time I was laid off it was about a week after the company president, in a speech to all employees, stated that there were not going to be layoffs. In all fairness to him though, he was let go too... :eek: The board of directors brought in a new president, moved the company headquarters to another state (to where the chairman of the board lived), cancelled many of the innovative projects that were in the works, and (in my opinion) killed the company. It still exists today, but the employee count is down from over 5,000 to (I would guess) 150 now.

I can't say that at that time I had a specific plan for what I was going to do. Fortunately I was prepared enough that I was working again the following week.
 

Jim Wynne

Staff member
Admin
#9
Jim, can you give our readers some tips as to what you saw coming that many coworkers did not? Was this normal due diligence EVERYONE should be performing or was there some single event which raised red flags for you?
Unfortunately I'm not at liberty to divulge anything about my personal experience with this company. Suffice it to say that there were a number of factors that had a cumulative effect.

What kind of plans? Did you set aside a "war chest" for the job campaign to come? Did you start to perform extra economizing at home? Did you start to research organizations and re-establish your personal network so the new job hunt would be as efficient as possible? Did you establish a dedicated email address to handle your job hunt related correspondence? [
I did indeed "activate the network" fairly early on, and there were things done at home in the way of belt-tightening in anticipation of an unfortunate occurrence. There was some incentive for me to stay put, and I think I made the right decision in doing so. I have several e-mail addresses that I use for different purposes, but I don't have one dedicated to job hunting because I don't see an advantage (for me) in doing so, although I am using something other than my default, regular e-mail account.

What are your recommendations for other Covers who may be in the same boat, but lack oars and patching material for the leaks?
People should keep their eyes and ears open and assume the worst will happen. That way, there's a good chance that "the worst" will turn out to be a new opportunity. People should learn whatever they can in their present positions. If you're an inspector, learn as much as you can about the manufacturing processes in your company. Hang out with production people (and sales people, and engineers...) and learn what they do for a living, and what they like about, and what they don't. When you leave a company, try to make sure that you've left it a better place (if there is a place) and that you take something useful with you (and I don't mean office supplies :tg:).
 
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Stijloor

Staff member
Super Moderator
#10
Friends,

Excellent posts and comments! :applause: :applause:

I tell the people in my classes: "Consider yourself independent consultants. No job is permanent, and you should always be ready to take on your next assignment. That means sharpen skills and knowledge." Wes pointed this out quite a few times. Sadly, I've seen people becoming too complacent, only to find themselves on the street, without a job and with few marketable skills.

Stijloor.
 
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