Friday, September 08, 2006

Thanks for Flying

In my career, I've been laid off three times. Once due to a company relocation, once due to a company buyout, and once due to a company shut down. For all the layoff experiences I've had, none have been tremendously torturous. I've learned not to nest too much at any job and be sure everything personal at my desk can fit into one box.

When the first lay off occured due to a company relocating, I was one of about 120 folks feeling the layoff. After having 7 years of service, the severance package was sweet, and the corporate office provided outplacement help and, of all things, group counseling. That was a Camelot environment before the evil corporate folks started wielding their management power so by the time that happened, I was relieved to be out of there.

Layoff two came after a whirlwind of 3 years of building a company and surviving one buyout to fall prey to the second buyout. The evil second takeover had a sub plot of snuffing out folks who had been there from the beginning and wouldn't bow to the new royalty. Or continue to proclaim, "That's not the way we used to do it." My boss was more emotional than I was because she was heading back to California with a job.

The third time I survived two layoffs before I was part of the company shut down. This non-growing company was stunted by the acts of 9/11. Our parent company providing our funding was the largest defense contractor for the US government. When 9/11 happened, their focus had to shift, and our little technology venture had the plugged pulled.

I always perk up when I hear of large company layoffs because, after being in small ones over the years, I have a sense of what the employees are going through. I'm intrigued by a couple of company layoff strategies of late. Radio Shack laid off 400 of their employees by notifying them through e-mail. I suppose this is somewhat of a cold way to lay someone off, but given our faceless age of society, I can see why Radio Shack chose that option. Not that I agree with it, mind you. But, when I endured lay off #2, none of the HR folks wanted to do my exit meeting because they were too emotional to face me, though they finally did. Life is rough and the tough things have to be dealt with head on. I certainly hope this isn't a trend of the future that we solve all conflict and issues electronically.

The other case I heard about was from Northwest Airlines. This one, a bit more comical, made me chuckle. When you've been through as many lay offs as I have, you can't help but laugh at things. You can laugh because you see how you survived. As part of the paperwork provided to exiting employees, there was a booklet included entitled, "101 Ways to Save Money." Some of the real gems on this list were "Brown bag your lunch," "Always shop with a grocery list," and my personal favorite, "Don't be shy about pulling something you like out of the trash." Management apologized for not reviewing the resource before handing it out and has since pulled it from their exit packet.

I truly love my current job and we're on track to grow a stable company, although to some it may seem a risky place to be. But, no matter what happens, I know I'll get through it. And, I hope I never have to link to this layoff entry in a future layoff announcement of my own.

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