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Clutching at Straws -

Do not under-estimate the trauma of redundancy

This was my second experience of redundancy. In a previous company the department I worked in were all given notice quite unexpectedly, this was in 2004. I distinctly remember being called to attend what turned out to be a 10 minute meeting. I drove from Warrington to Coventry to be told that I had 90 days notice, and then straight away had to drive back home to Bolton.

That was a traumatic time, not least because of the many breaches of process that occurred during our notice period. Our team were brazenly excluded from day to day operations but were also expected to not only complete existing project work, but also make a start on new projects. One minute redundant, the next indisposable! I took out some of my frustrations by taking them to a tribunal and I won a reasonable additional payout.

This time around, my department was part of a massive plan to reduce management roles by 700. The process being signalled so far ahead meant it wasn’t the same shock to the system. Following a couple of serious run-ins with my senior management team there was also a feeling that perhaps this was what I needed. Looking back I had retreated into a bit of a shell, knowing full well that I wasn’t part of the right clique. As far as I was concerned there was a toxicity in the management culture and if I was being honest I didn’t want to be a part of it.

Go willingly, or be pushed?

I hadn’t worked out what my next steps were going to be and so I didn’t apply for voluntary redundancy. Our team that was now down to 4 was going to be reduced to 3. We all had to apply for a position and at this stage I was ambivalent about the whole thing.

I mentioned earlier about run-ins. I am not one who is prepared to suffer fools for very long. I am also passionate about ‘doing the right thing’ and I have a lot of trouble respecting people in management positions who’s primary focus is on their own career path. The efficient allocation of resources is only possible if people make rational decisions. Selfish people do not make rational decisions and selfish people have a habit of climbing to the top of the slippery, greasy career ladders in many UK businesses.

Sometimes selfishness can be a positive trait, when dynamic leadership can transform a business. More often it leads to inefficiency and this is when I get frustrated. Usually I can keep a lid on my emotions but occasionally I just can’t. It used to be called ‘Hilton’s half hour’, when some minor comment in the office would result in a sustained verbal assault from me on the ethics and morals of selfish people.

The first run-in resulted in me transferring from a retail team to a logistics team. There were logical business reasons that made this a successful managed transition that saved faces for both sides. The second run-in, with the logistics team, culminated with another transfer request.

Clutching at straws

In both cases I was comfortable that I had exhausted all means of conciliation at all levels of management. In the first instance a transfer request made a lot of sense, in the second instance I was probably clutching at straws. Needless to say, I was not selected for a new role and was made redundant.