As children, we often dream of what we want to be when we grow up, and usually, our dream is tied to a particular occupation. Fire Fighter. Police Officer. Teacher. Doctor. Lawyer. As we grow older, some of us pursue our dream job, while some of us follow a different career path altogether.
When we settle on a line of work, we find ourselves surrounded by other people who made a similar choice. These are the people we spend the majority of our time with during the work week, and these people go from being strangers to being our colleagues. Sometimes, if we are really fortunate, they also become our friends. I have been very fortunate in that regard.
With each job, I formed friendships with some of the people I worked alongside each day. It was not necessarily intentional, as we were all there to do a job, but working together sometimes led to sharing our lives outside of work. We grew to know about each other’s families, our likes and dislikes, our little quirks, and other parts of our life that were not readily on display in a professional setting. Even when we parted ways as colleagues, we remained friends. My current position has been business as usual, until recently.
Over the past eighteen months, I have watched colleague after colleague receive news that they were being impacted by a reduction in force. Translation: Their position was being eliminated. It is tough enough to say good-bye when a person chooses to leave a position, and it is even more difficult when the decision was not theirs to make.
In an instant, these colleagues and friends enter into a sort of purgatory, as they continue to report for work, while waiting for their official release date. They have one foot in the office and one foot out the door. As they straddle that line, they have to make decisions about finding another job, devise a plan of how to live day-to-day during the transition period, and cope with the loss of their position and their work family. The emotions are real and raw, and they are shared by those of us who remain.
It is such a helpless feeling to not be able to do something tangible to help the people I work with, laugh with, confide in, and lean on each day. While I am grateful to still be employed, it is difficult to celebrate my reprieve while others did not receive one. I do not want to see anyone hurt; I want everyone to be okay.
In time, I know that they will be more than okay. I really do believe that things happen for a reason and that each of these amazing people will go on to something even better than they could have imagined. I believe this, because I believe in them. I know who they are and what they are capable of doing.
While rationalizing the decision to lay people off, I have heard employers say, It’s just business. It is just business in the sense that this was not a personal vendetta against anyone, but it is not just business when it affects people’s lives, at work and at home. When it impacts people I know, respect, and care about as colleagues and friends, it definitely is not just business. It is personal.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story