Redundancy – Part 1 - The Employee
When an ASX listed company announced their job reduction plan last week, my own redundancy experience from 2013 flooded back. It took me a long time to recover from my redundancy from NAB, on many fronts. I worked for NAB for 11 years and when I joined the company, I did not like it much at first. It did however go through an enormous transformation in the first 2 years of my career when there was one too many questions about risk, culture and return from the Board and the Shareholders. When new management came in 2004, I felt it was an organisation on the move and so I stayed and grew my career within it for 11 years.
In the last 12 months of my career at NAB I had taken on a leadership role for a product team. It was so much fun. We had a wonderful team full of really capable people, a great product and super talented sales, marketing and servicing teams. There was a changing strategy for the product, challenged by fast moving technology and so it was busy with complex in-market product management and planning for new development. It was a successful team. We worked hard, we respected each other’s roles, we were passionate about the product and we had a great deal of fun. About 8 months into the role I was told there would be some significant changes to the role and the team.
Then in mid-2013 NAB announced a restructure that saw an alignment of functions and their locations. It meant the product team I was leading would be moved to Melbourne. The restructure was across the organisation and a number of people where being shuffled and made redundant. Part 2 of this blog will look at my role as the manager of the team but for now, I am going to reflect on my experience as an employee.
When the announcement came through about the changes, I decided pretty early on that I would not look for another role in the organisation. It was important for me to work in an organisation that respected me as an individual and the contribution I could make. It was also important for me to cut the identity ties I had to NAB and find out who I was without such a large brand behind me. I had worked at NAB for 11 years, on average about 60 – 70 hours / week and I had forgotten who I was outside of work. So I decided to take redundancy.
After supporting my team through the process and packing up 11 years of contacts and stuff I really didn’t need, I left on the very first day I possibly could. The organisation was so trapped under the shear weight of the process, I became a number and I felt there was not a great deal of support. I thought I was strong enough to cope. As it turned out, I wasn’t. I was suddenly exposed and when I am vulnerable, I usually protect myself by being angry. So I was angry with the organisation, I was angry with myself for giving them so much of my time, energy and skill, I was angry at people that I thought were sponsors and turned out they weren’t and I was angry that I didn’t know what I wanted to do.
I quickly worked out who were my friends and sponsors in the market and for those people, I thank them very much. I also worked out, who was not. Knowing your network and their commitment to you was a key learning from the redundancy process for me. I do know however, there is plenty of room and opportunities for all of us to contribute and be successful when sponsorship might not be so prevalent. I took on some great new roles in a couple of different industries and really branched out my skills and finally got serious about studying for my next career as a coach and a counsellor. It just all took me more time than I expected.
So for those that will go through this process over the next few years here is what I have learned about being made redundant:
1. Always have a career plan irrespective of organisation
I had a career plan but I was insular in my thinking and I had tied my plan only to NAB. A career plan is about you, your growth, your skills and your goals. It should be irrespective of an organisation or even an industry, it should really be a connected set of steps, goals and roles that serve you and your purpose.
2. Know your skills – all of them
We all have so many skills that are transferable into roles and organisations. I worked out very quickly that the enormous basket of experience I had gained in 11 years at NAB, with the discipline of a large bank, gave me so much to offer other organisations.
3. Update your CV every 3 months
Redundancy or pending redundancy is an emotional, stressful and difficult process. If you have taken the time to update your CV every few months, you will be ready for opportunities. Trying to write a CV when you only have two weeks until you finish your role and you don’t know where your next job is coming from is a challenge. If you complete your CV in a positive mindset now, when things become a little more stressful, you will be ready.
4. Find your mentors and sponsors and keep them relevant
One of the biggest issues I had at NAB is that I only had one sponsor. Indirectly I had many but there was only one of influence. If I had my time again, I would have asked more people to mentor me and I would have discussed my pending redundancy and secured more sponsors. I was always too busy working to be mentored or connect with others but my recommendation is that you take the time to do those things, as they are so important when things shift and change.
5. Get support for yourself
I had a coach before and after the redundancy. I needed her. My partner at the time was also being made redundant, which made life very difficult and none of my friends had been through anything similar. Going outside the organisation to a career coach or EAP is really important for a process like redundancy. Keeping true to yourself, straying positive and strong, sometimes requires an extra set of hands.
6. Get support for others
When a redundancy is announced, people can react in different ways. If you are a leader or generally a great listener, people will lean on you for support. If you are feeling vulnerable as well, helping others, may take away from your reserves. Be aware of how much you are supporting others and maybe have a couple of support services handy if you need to refer them on. Your wellbeing is really important.
Redundancy can be the best thing that ever happened to you but it can also be really difficult. For me, I was challenged on every front. Who was I? What did I want to be? How was I going to contribute to the world? How was I going to pay the bills? And how was I going to stay connected, without a role? It has taken me a long time to work through all of these questions and although extremely difficult at times, being made redundant has eventually made me a more rounded person but also a bloody good career coach.
For a further conversation about coaching, please contact me: email@example.com or my contact page.