SURVIVING RETRENCHMENT

If you focus on the hurt, you will continue to suffer.  If you focus on the lesson, you will continue to grow. ~ fb/Buddha Daily

Whether you expect it or not, the moment you are notified that you are being retrenched is still a shock to your system.  Questions flood your mind like “why me?”, “am I not good enough?”, “what did I do to deserve it?”, “why now?”, “what could I have done better?”  The facts are that you are good enough, you did not do anything to deserve it, and you could have done nothing better.

It is not all about you!

Remember this one fact:  It is not all about you.  It is about cutting expenses, streamlining the workforce, it is about profit and shareholder dividends.  You just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.  You are merely a means to an end.  Cannon fodder so to speak; a pawn against hopeless odds in an effort to achieve a strategic goal.

Wait… it is about you!

It is all about the setback in your career and probably your financial situation, it is about your feelings of anger, of fear, of worthlessness, of disbelief, of grief, of resentment and of betrayal.  There is nothing wrong with these feelings, they are natural and very real to the situation.  It is also about you being forced into the unknown and it is about the cold and hard reality that you will probably be unemployed, hopefully for not too long, and that there will be some form of a financial impact on you. 

The feelings you experience is part of the 5-steps of grief, i.e. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance.  You need to work through these emotions as quickly as possible.  The quicker you get through it, the sooner you can move on and take control back of your life.

Not discounting any of these feelings, let’s look at what you need to do to move forward as quickly as possible.

1. Accept it and get over it

This sounds cold and clear-cut but you need to come to terms with your retrenchment being a reality and that, nothing you do, can undo their decision.  You cannot enter into a bargaining scenario, thinking that you can change it.  The possibility that the decision will be reversed is non-existent. You may find comfort knowing that the decision was probably not taken lightly.

 2. Know your retrenchment rights

Understand your rights and investigate all options that you are entitled to.  Being retrenched makes you eligible to claim against the Unemployment Insurance Fund.  You may also qualify for the SARS tax benefit on severance packages.  Should you qualify, make sure your Human Resources department applies for this benefit on your behalf.  It will save you thousands in tax and will make your package last longer.

 3. Onward and upward

Re-adjust your monthly budget and cut out any spending on unneeded “necessities” until you can afford it again.

 4. Hold your own

Hold your head high and do not get involved in mudslinging; it pointless.  The only one that stands to lose a good reputation is you!

5. Show what you are made of

Serve out the remainder of your time ethically and professionally.  Do not display a don’t-care attitude, do not be uncooperative, rude, or disrespectful to anyone.  Be at work every day, on time and leave at the end of the day.

6. Hand it over with pride and professionalism

Write comprehensive hand-over notes to the person who will be taking over your responsibilities.  Include a step-by-step guide on processes where needed and include all the relevant contact details of everyone you deal with i.e. name, surname, designation, company, email address, cell phone number.  Remember, it was not your colleague’s fault or decision to take on additional tasks.  I am almost certain that they will not get extra compensation for your added responsibilities. 

Your colleagues will have their feelings to deal with, feelings of survivor’s guilt which can become as serious as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  These feelings occur when a person survives an event that others did not (in the case a retrenchment).  The symptoms include headaches, problems sleeping, nausea or stomachache and social isolation.

7. Take control.  Plan your Future.

If you are thinking of starting your own business, write your business plan as soon as possible.  The longer you are stuck in feelings of denial, anger and depression, the more time you are wasting.  Deal with it head-on.  You may need a business coach to help you through this. 

Retrenchment is not a pleasant experience but how quickly and unscathed you come out on the other side, is up to you.  Ask me, I have through it twice.