I have the unusual distinction of having been “restructured” out of my last two positions, yes two. While the entire truth may never be known, I’m choosing to believe that I earned this distinction because I’m awesome and performed so well that I worked my way out of both organizations after cleverly working my way in.
If we can agree on my awesomeness and the similarity between the circumstances surrounding my departures, it’s the difference in the way each was done that makes for a good story. In short, one departure was handled by my employers with grace, dignity, and dare I say, aplomb. The other, not so much.
First, the bad. It was a cold Monday morning in November of last year. I arrived at work as usual to find the parking lot empty (I’m an early riser), parked my car and went inside. My three superiors, who always parked in the same row of assigned stalls as I did, had arrived uncharacteristically early, and had not parked in their usual stalls. They had watched me drive in, and took that as a cue to enter the building behind me.
What followed was a short walk to a board room and a conversation the lasted no more than 45 seconds. I was told that due to restructuring, effective immediately, my job had been eliminated. In order to “make things easy for me” (as they said over and over), I could clean out my office at my convenience. My company car, however, was to be cleaned out and returned immediately, and a cab was waiting to take me home. By this time, with my blood boiling, facing a group of people who were determined to make things difficult, and caught up in a situation where I could have lost my dignity and composure, I held on to whatever bits of them I had left with all my might.
As the seconds ticked by, and with my certainty growing that I would never see these people again, I could have let fly a string of expletives. Instead, I chose to say nothing, other than asking for a box to clean out my office.
I packed up my office, cleaned out my car, and left. No one thanked me for the work I did.
The severance they offered was woefully inadequate, and certainly did NOT “make things easy for me,” and negotiations would be required. The letter, as I could have predicted, also did not say “thank you” anywhere, despite my own urgings to have it included when I had participated in departing a member of my team a few months earlier.
Long story short, as a result of those few poorly handled moments at the end of almost two years of work, I was devastated and needed nearly two months to recover. I moved forward. I stopped focusing on the notion that things like that shouldn’t happen to people like me, and started focusing on the fact that it did. What I know with certainty however, is that I’ll never recommend this organization to anyone looking for work. Ever.
Contrast that with a “restructuring” that occurred a couple years before. My employer and I both knew that our time together was nearing an end, and that my skill set had taken them to new heights, but couldn’t take them any higher. I was approached one Monday morning, and presented with a separation offer that was fair, complete, and required almost no negotiation. More importantly, as I realize now, they were full of thank-you’s and praises for the work I had done. They also requested that I stay on for five more weeks beyond that day to finish some projects and to transcribe the contents of my brain onto virtual paper, which I was more than happy to do. To this day, I am quick to praise this company, and tell people that if they are lucky enough to be given the chance to work there, to jump on it. That company is Canoe Financial.
The moral of my stories? Departing people with dignity and respect is of utmost importance to your company’s future and its reputation. Especially if you listen to the people who have been departed
Chief Operating Officer