Sunday, 4 July 2010

Redundant? Not me, I'm off to change the world!

"Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it's because they sat there that they were able to do it." Ryan Bingham - Up In The Air 2009.

Yes, it is possibly the most dreadful film I've ever had the misfortune to sit through... but I've been thinking a lot about that quote from Up In The Air recently, where George Clooney's character Ryan makes people redundant.  What the film is about and the inner workings of the character George Clooney plays doesn't matter, as I said:  However, that quote has been haunting me, as so many of my colleagues and friends have been made redundant in the past few weeks.

In general, how are they coping?  Most days, remarkably well.

The stages of redundancy:
  • The bit where you feel really hurt and shocked.  This is the first stage and usually manifests itself in tears and a passionate hatred of management and an often even more intense hatred of human resources.
  • The bit where you feel really hurt and rejected.  What did you do to deserve this? (NB: nothing at all, bad stuff sometimes happens to good people)  Why you specifically?  Why not that moron in human resources?
  • The bit where you feel really hurt and scared.  You're afraid you won't be able to pay your mortgage, credit card bills, or ever eat out again.  You're gob-smacked at how little money you're entitled to.
  • The bit where you feel really hurt and angry.  You were too good for that awful company anyway.  You've always hated your job.  You've always hated your boss.  You've always hated those idiots in human resources.
  • The bit where you stop feeling quite so hurt, shocked, rejected, scared and angry... and realise that this could be the best thing that has ever happened to you.
Years ago a company I worked for underwent a restructuring, code name: double-whamy (why? why? why?) On the day lots and lots of people were made redundant, I caught a colleague crying in the toilet.  "oh god" I said "have they made you redundant too?"
"No" she sobbed "they want me to stay!"

Because sometimes, not always but sometimes, being made redundant isn't the worst thing.  Being asked to stay in a company you don't recognise, minus most of your friends and colleagues, to do a job which has quadrupled in size... sometimes that is the worst thing.

I'm not trying to belittle the stress, the pain and the heartache that redundancy causes.  It is horrible and I would not wish it on anyone.  BUT......

"Anybody who ever built an empire, or changed the world, sat where you are now. And it's because they sat there that they were able to do it."  Everyone I know who has been made redundant, now has that opportunity to change the world.  They might not, they might get another job not dissimilar to the one they were previously doing.  But some of them, most of them, look set to go on to bigger and better things and to quote one of my friends: "redundancy might just be the kick up the bum I need."

If you've been made redundant: the government's website has some useful information about your redundancy rights and even a redundancy calculator.

My redundancy tips:
  • Ask for time-out and ask for support.  You will have lots of meetings with your manager and human resources and it is a lot to take in.  Make sure you ask for plenty of time to consider everything that is being said to you.  And if possible take a supportive colleague (not from your immediate department) or friend (not someone emotionally involved) to the meetings with you; they shouldn't say anything, they are just there to listen and make notes.  Once you've been made redundant ask for support with your CV, with the job hunt, with networking - this is the time where your true friends will show their worth.
  • Don't burn bridges.  It's tempting to tell ex-colleagues and management exactly what you think of them (especially those patronising spanners in human resources) but you may need these people for a reference and I even know people who've been made redundant and then ended up working back at their old company as a freelancer or consultant.
  • Don't take it personally.  Must easier said than done, but try to remember that your role was made redundant and not you personally.  Often these decisions are made on high and your direct line manager won't have wanted to make you redundant at all.  
  • Keep busy.  It's a clich√©, but it can make a huge difference.  Make lots of plans: networking events, lunch with friends, exercise, trips to the local internet cafe/library.
  • And don't whatever you do watch any of the following films:
    • Up In The Air - it's about redundancy and it's just as painful.
    • Billy Elliott - lots of miners being made redundant, it might make you cry
    • Watership Down - lots of rabbits dying, it will make you cry
Have you been made redundant?  What is your advice?  Post your top tips below.

Have you watched Up In The Air?  Are you one of the many people who actually liked it?  Can you please explain why below.

1 comment:

  1. I really liked the movie for several reasons. For starters, I liked the cast and I thought they all did their parts pretty well. They sold the script to me, unlike many of shitty movies that we all have to endure these days. The storyline is pretty straightforward and nothing out of the ordinary, but I just liked the general idea. I imagined myself being George Clooney's character and wanted to see if this is a life that I would want. Being a 23 year old recent college graduate, many doors are open in front of me and perhaps, it would have been awesome to travel light all over the US. It's one of those good feel movies, except it does get somewhat boring and redundant in some of the scenes. It also lacked depths to Clooney's family characters, although it might have been deemed unnecessary. I actually watched it twice, but my girlfriend only thought it was okay, nothing more, nothing less. So yeah, there you have it, these were some of the reasons why I liked it. It was a chance to get away and live a carefree life in a flying tin can.