13 May The Emotional Stages of Redundancy and How to Flip it on its Head
Let’s face it – for most of us, being made redundant is not an ideal situation in our career – it can often happen when you least expect it or be part of a long drawn out period of corporate restructure uncertainty.
I’ve been there personally and worked through the massive redundancies of the 2008 GFC period. And look, I am not going to lie, the severity of the emotional impact of redundancy completely caught me by surprise. In a culture of winning, being made redundant makes us feel like a failure. We may have dependents that rely on us and/or much of our own identity and self worth tied up in our work persona and the effort expended of getting back into the workforce is trying at the very least and exhausting at worst. It can be an extremely stressful time, and lead to feeling overwhelmed emotionally.
It’s important to keep in mind that emotions are not things to avoid: Feel them. Evaluate them. Accept them. And move forward.
Think of it this way – you are potentially only one career life decision and act away from a completely different life. And as cliched as it may sound, this may well be the best career life opportutnity yet to be recognised! You’re not going to get there though, by examining the past for too long.
To help, here are a few examples of completely natural emotional stages that may occur post redundancy, and how to not let them win:
Also known as the ‘Why me?’ phase that happens shortly after the incident.
Sure, you could have been hand-selected by a group of your peers, but is that really the most likely possibility? Ultimately redundancy is a business decision.
Take the opportunity to open up to friends and family or why not work with a qualified career coach to objectively support you, but do your best to not take the decision personally and grow resentful. This will only hinder your ability to ‘perform’ at interview and potentially impact your next career move.
Once the anger fades, it’s easy to feel frightened or overwhelmed about what the future holds. It would also be perfectly understandable to feel a degree of ‘grief’ – afterall we spend so many hours at work.
There are going to be a lot of unanswered ‘What if’s’, but know that this is not the end of your career. Continue to look at this situation in context: this is a new opportunity – whether you wanted to take one or not – so use it to your advantage. Take this time to be productive, and think about how productivity is defined by your standards.
After being made redundant and sending out several applications, you may feel despondent or frustrated about your career situation or the lack of response. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, questioning your value as a professional. In fact, redundancy is commonly followed by a feeling of personal failure and erroneously placing blame internally. Now is the time to ‘take care of you’.
Although difficult to maintain optimism, recognise that you are in charge of your emotions and actions. Try your best to focus on actionables and maintain a daily routine. While you can’t change the redunancy, you can choose how you respond to it. Like any major event we go through, there will be ups and downs, but remember that the job became redundant, not you. While the process may be nerve-wracking at times, things will (not “might”) be okay again.
Redundancy can be a difficult time for your career and in your life. But you don’t have to go through it alone.
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Love Your Work Career Consulting specialises in outplacement, career transition and management services.