Laid Off — A new journey begins

Cubicles - blueLast 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.

No matter.

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

Comments

  1. says

    Scot,

    I am very, very sorry to hear this. I can only say that as one who has followed your words in these various blogs that someone as bright and articulate as you should be a snapped up quickly by any organization with the sense to recognize your abilities.

    The timing is dreadful, of course, and there is little you can do about that. So, relax, enjoy a little time to yourselves, and hit it hard again after the first of the year.

    Best wishes from the East Coast. Take care, my friend.

    – Scott (NE1RD)

  2. Scot Herrick says

    Thanks, Scott. The timing is what it is. I understand the need. It didn’t work out in terms of leaving, but that’s OK. Timing the stock market doesn’t work either, so it is really about staying focused on your goals and objectives. That we’re doing.

    More to come on all of this. I’d really like to share lessons learned on this with my readers…and I have a list!

  3. says

    Sorry to hear this, Scot. It seems almost unreal that there are companies laying off employees in today’s world. I know you’ll find something even better!

  4. says

    Scot,

    Even though I can tell (by reading your blogs) that you are far more equipped to deal with a layoff than the vast majority… it still is a major pain I’m sure. I hope that you have a smooth transition into your next professional journey… and that we’ll get to read about it along the way. Then you’ll be able to focus on the important things in life… like contesting :)

    73 Pat
    NØHR

  5. says

    Scot,

    Sorry to hear about the layoffs. I am sure you’ll land on your feet quickly and continue the battle as a corporate warrior (or maybe an independent warrior!). I look forward to hearing about your experience.

    Take care,
    Travis

  6. Scot Herrick says

    Rebecca It is quite the commentary that people are supposed to be a company’s most important asset, but mostly it is because people are the most expensive company asset. I understand the need to lay off people, but it usually can be traced back to management not doing enough right in the past. Regardless, one needs to be prepared to not be working.

  7. Scot Herrick says

    Pat I’ve gone through this before with the tech bust back in 2001. We’re not in that situation right now, but we are both looking. One of the things that I didn’t do well last time was take a bit of time off just for myself. Instead, I just went right into looking. We’re going to take through the end of the year and just enjoy our time.

    Travis You should do a series in your blog about how companies laying off their people demonstrate the most Disorganizational Behavior out there! And I am working a few things on the independent side.

    Dan Thanks, I will. One of the most interesting things about this experience is that you never know from where the help will come.

  8. says

    Scot,

    Sorry to hear about the layoff…it seems as if you have the right attitude about it though. Take some time off and jump into the job search after the first of the year.

    I have a few contacts in the Seattle area that I’d be happy to share once you start the search.

    Regards
    Eric

  9. Ron says

    Scot,
    I was following the WaMu news and wondering . . . I am so sorry about this, but like you, I’ve been through it also, and getting some regenerative time is good. I think we need another contesting destination soon! Vy 73 de Ron WJ7R

  10. says

    Scot,

    Sorry to hear your news. Best of luck and if I can offer any assistance (networking, etc), let me know.

    I always got a chuckle out of the quip (can’t remember where it’s from): if employees are a company’s most important asset, why do they keep the pencils under lock and key and dump people left and right?

  11. Robert Wall says

    Scot-

    I managed a successful bank for many years and have recently gone back to my roots of business consulting! I did this because I too realized, with so many great individuals working for me, the share-holder will be #1 in the corporate world! Chin up, great things will come and let me know if you need a few business ideas! Work for yourself and create an employee based bsiness!!!

  12. Scot Herrick says

    Eric You’ve always been a great supporter and right after the first of the year, I’ll get in touch. My wife and I are going to take some good together time off — it happens so rarely, so we’re going to take advantage of this.

    Ron I agree, it would be fun. For those wondering what contesting is, I am a ham radio operator and go to other countries to operate for fun along with a great group of guys.

    Mike I’ve got on my helmet, pads and mouth guard all ready to go for this journey. Someone just needs to discover my special talents!

    Robert There are already a few ideas in the hopper, including launching off of this blog. Stay tuned.

    And thanks all for the comments.

  13. Scot Herrick says

    Andrew As it turns out, we’re currently sitting in a bed and breakfast off the Oregon coast watching the (high) waves rolling into the beach in advance of the storm tomorrow. Refreshed is right!

  14. Dave Mulkearns (k6oh) says

    Scot,
    The same thing happened to me over 10 years ago, I had worked for Mass Mutual Insurance for 16 years and my wife had 5 years there, we were laid off 6 months after closing on our home, it turned out to be the BEST thing that could have happened to us, We ran our small business and went to school and now earn easily triple what we would be earning had the jobs not been outsourced… One door has to close before another can open… Keep the faith and things will work out….73..

  15. Scot Herrick says

    Dave I agree. I was laid off once before right after the tech bubble burst and once in a new position, it really was much better for quite a while.

    That previous experience taught me a lot about being prepared for the next layoff, no matter when it happens. Outside of the good things in between, it certainly helped a lot for what is happening now. Thanks for the support; I appreciate it.

  16. says

    Scot – sorry to hear about your wife and yourself being laid off. Your fantastic attitude and take on it all is pretty inspiring though, and I’m looking forward to hearing how you come back bigger and better than ever!

    This post and the dialogue it has inspired is cool, and I know I’ll refer back to it again – thanks for being living proof that that there is life after layoffs.

  17. Scot Herrick says

    Thanks, Sarah, I really appreciate it. We’re coming to the end of some good time off. I’m looking forward (first time in a long time, actually) to January 2nd where we can get out there and find something that is challenging for us and needed by a company.

  18. Tyler Barnett says

    Hi Scot,
    Just discovered your site, but unfortunately this first article. Arghh!

    Just terrible news, and amazing that you both are taking it so well. My wife has been through 2 of these, once with American Mutual (asbestos claims tanked the company), and Tyco (nuff said there). She went back to school, and will get a systems management degree next spring. Things do look up, doors do open, so hang in there.

    - Tyler N4TY

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