Last week I was on vacation. Upon returning to the office on Monday of this week, the layoff dance at my employer (Washington Mutual, much in the news) had already begun.
My employees — who support the entire country in their work — were already hearing of large layoffs in the Eastern Time zone (we are in the Pacific Time zone), lots of speculation, and then receiving meeting notices with an innocent sounding title, but from a person three levels up from them. We all know what that means.
Then my “meeting invite” came in e-mail as well.
None of this was wildly unexpected, given WaMu’s known financial issues. And, if you lay people off for cost reasons alone, you do it right away. If you lay people off for cost reasons to outsourcers, you do that as early in the year as possible so as to accrue savings over the entire budget year. I was expecting the outsourcing route in the first quarter of 2008, not the straight cost cutting of the fourth quarter of 2007.
The 10-minute meeting consisted of my manager’s manager telling me that it was a layoff for cost reasons, that he was available if needed, that there was a package for those getting laid off and that day was to be my last day in the office. And, of course, others had not yet been told (such as the rest of my people) and he wanted me to preserve his position to tell them (like they didn’t already know).
Upon leaving, my office-mate was waiting to collect my corporate assets — laptop, Blackberry, and access cards. I then said goodbye to my team and 3-4 others on the floor and headed home a mere twenty minutes after being laid off.
All of this, of course, happened a half hour after my wife, Kate, was laid off in a different building in a different department. There are times when working for the same company sucks…
In the world of change, there is preparing for the change, the change event itself, and then the integration of the change. Those 15-minutes were the change event and since then I’ve already started on this new journey.
Layoffs are common-place on Corporate Earth. But even if you are well prepared for a change — hey, I’m the ultimate Cubicle Warrior! — layoffs are hard.
We’ll take a lot of the next articles to look at the layoff process, the signs you need to read, and how to cope. Plus other stuff, of course. From a person going through the experience as a Cubicle Warrior.
Scot Herrick is the author of “I’ve Landed My Dream Job–Now What???” and owner of Cube Rules, LLC. Scot has a long history of management and individual contribution in multiple Fortune 100 corporations. Join the Cubicle Club mailing list here.