When they told me I had become redundant I beamed with pride and braced for the kiss on each cheek. As a new redundantee, I anticipated a bonus, the probability of a promotion and the certainty of kudos in the company newsletter. I imagined perks and stock options. Instead, they made me surrender my company ID, kicked me out of my reserved parking space, and gave my cloakroom hook to a new hire with fast-track credentials and the gift of gobbledygook.
You know youíre in trouble when suddenly you donít have a place to hang your hat, even if you donít wear a hat. They didnít have to paint me a picture; I could see the handwriting on the wall. And even if the handwriting was in shorthand, I could make it out: ďUve hd it, bg gy. U dnt mk th ct. Ht th rd.Ē
Even now that I understand the qualitative differential between being downsized and becoming redundant, I canít help feeling like Iíve been run through the heavy-duty document shredder. I continue to believe thereís been some terrible mistake; things like this just donít happen in a corporate culture where everybody in management is on the same page, going by the rules, executing the game plan, and playing on a level field.
This was a company known to be on the cutting edge and the leading-edge from top to bottom, a culture that was market-molded, customer-committed, data-driven, results-oriented. And I was right there in the middle of it, making things happen. I was a hands-on, focus-grouped, parameter-bending, meeting-calling, envelope-pushing, memo-memorizing, letís-go-get-íem kind of mildly manic, modestly macho, mid-life, middle-of-the-road, middle-managing middle manager.
I was a company man all the way, the kind of guy people wanted to share a table with in the cafeteria.
Then they moved the goal posts just when I thought I was coming up to bat. I thought the name of the game was teamwork and sticking to the game plan. I knew I was pulling my oar and I expected to be judged by my track record. Not only did I follow the game plan, I had helped to brainstorm it, shape it, nurture it, breast-feed it. The thrust of that plan was built on some of my concepts. I was a team playerís team player.
What happened next? Kaboom! Thatís what happened. The clouds began to gather and the seas began to rise and the deck began to roll and the earth began to tremble and the skies opened and the bottom fell out. Where I had been on a roll, on a tear, on the make, on the beam, on stream, on target, on track, on-line, on-site, on the alert and on time, now I was on the street, on the beach, on the outs, and on the dole.
I knew what I needed to do was to push the envelope and pull it together. I knew that if I played my cards right I could get myself into a position to backstop some outsourcing. But first I would have to reach out for some outplacement; I would need to cast some bread upon the waters to see which way the wind was blowing.
I trial-ballooned it by memoing Human Resources and pretending everything was still hunky dory between me and management. The HRD guys are the ones who are data-current on the outplacement scene but they are out to lunch on the who-just-got-pink-slipped scene. I figured I could pry some critical data out of them jobwise before they got otherwise-wise to my having so recently become an ex-key team player on the middle management management team.
While they were fishing this critical middle-management-position-to-be-filled info out of their data bases in answer to my canny queries, I figured to be all over them with a cyber-tornado of job-application wizardry developed over many moons of not-so-woolly corporate wool-gathering in which I scenarioed the very thing that has just come down on me.
Unthinkable but it is the unthinkable you have to think about.
Yes, I see the email is stacking up ó answers no doubt to my many savvy queries that will put me far ahead of the pack of applicants for the job I just lost but will soon have back again with much improved perks and bennies.
And just so you know, I will not take the job if they donít give me a parking place nearer the front door.