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How to Deal with Being Downsized

A human resource specialist offers tips for an all-too common phenomenon.



By Barney Feinberg
10/01/2008

You walk into work on Friday, getting ready for the weekend with your family. Sitting down at your desk you start your day, checking e-mail messages as you drink your coffee, milk no sugar.

It is 9:15 in the morning when you get a call from the director of human resources to come into her office. A bell goes off in your head but you choose not to notice it. As you walk into her office you notice your boss on the other side of the desk. As you sit down in your chair you feel as if you are sinking and there is an unfamiliar anxiety covering you like a hot beach blanket, causing you to sweat. Then the words, “Today is going to be your last day....You have just been downsized.

There is an initial shock, grasping for more to understand, as if there was a way to change the decision. An offer is made for severance after you sign some papers. You are then escorted to your desk to take your personal belongings; feeling like you were walking the last mile to oblivion with eyes staring at you, some comforted that it is not them, others wondering who’s next.

You have been stripped of your perceived security, sent into the street with little to show for it and the uneasy realization that the mortgage payments never stop, your eldest son needs braces, and what are you going to tell your spouse who works part time without benefits?

Is the Iceberg Melting?

The most important thing to accomplish after being downsized is to realize your fear and understand that you can either use it as an asset or it will use you, causing a paralysis of action. For most of us, it is something to get rid of, an uncomfortable anxiety. We may succeed at times but it doesn’t just go away, it is something that can come back many times with many things triggering it, including my introduction to this article. It can take away our confidence and make us settle for less than we can achieve to live our dreams for a wonderful life.

We can be great creators of fear, often projecting worst case scenarios that never happen. I work in the Empire State Building and after 9/11 I can tell you it was easy to create fear, worrying about future events. Worry is planning for failure and anyone in a successful business will tell you it is better to plan for success.

Planning for success in the face of the unknown is where you want to be when finding your next career opportunity. You may be thinking, “That makes sense, but easier said than done, I have all these things to worry about.” When one is downsized it can be easy to worry, especially if you have a lot of financial responsibilities to meet. I am here to tell you planning for success takes your mind off of worry and with practice it becomes easier.

How can we use fear as an asset? Speak to actors with stage fright; many rely on that energy from increased adrenaline to enhance the passion of their performance. They focus their attention on the actions they intuitively know they can perform, brilliantly!

If you have recently been downsized, just noticing that you are worrying and planning for failure can help you choose to get back into planning for success. Success planning is a very powerful place to be that will lead you to action in finding your next career move.

For those of you who are reading this article and working, yet understand that some day downsizing could happen to you, a friend, or family member, this is the perfect time to plan for success.

This planning can be done every day and not just for your career but for every area of your life. It can be a short range plan that you can take action on immediately, such as going to the gym or getting to bed on time. It can be a long range plan that has milestones of accomplishment before you reach your goal such as losing 10 lbs. over a period of time or creating a Web site. The key is to make success planning a habit in every area of your life.

There are many ways to find a new job: networking, job boards, direct company contact, and executive recruiters. Being in action by planning for success will bring the results you want much quicker with less stress. Deal with downsizing from strength not fear.

 

Barney Feinberg is the President of the Kay Group – Life Balance Recruiters.  He is a Certified Life Coach who has merged Life Coaching with Executive Placement. He can be reached at bfeinberg@thekaygroup.com.

By Barney Feinberg
10/01/2008







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