Friday, February 12, 2010

Survivor's guilt - again

I've worked in the "high tech" industry for 33 years now, essentially for three different companies.

I've completely lost track of how many layoffs I have been through. The first time was a bit horrifying, but I survived.

And I kept surviving, dodging every one of these "force reductions." A lot of them were small, so the odds were in my favor for staying on, but some were large and left me stunned to have made it.

But here's the thing - you never get used to this process. Yesterday's layoffs in my division were just as horrifying as that first time. This was a complete surprise that touched all areas and resulted in a wide variety of people being laid off - not really a large layoff, but large enough to profoundly impact our small part of the company.

And again I end up dealing with survivor's guilt. My job has been changed, maybe significantly, so there will be an adjustment period. But this is nothing compared to what those that were laid off will have to deal with. And I don't think the hardest thing they will deal with is looking for a new job - it is struggling with the "why me" question.

Be assured: those of us that survived are not superior to those who didn't. Layoffs are almost never about keeping the good people and letting go of the lower performing ones. The people that usually make these decisions have no clue about any of us - we are just head counts that need to be optimized. It's a business choice.

Looking back, I can see why this happened and can understand that it will ultimately be good for the company. Much of it makes sense. But some of the choices don't.

In any case, I had to say goodbye to two of the best bosses anyone could ever have. Our department was the envy of the division for a number of reasons, but it all came back to those two and their knack for making this a great place to work. And I had to say goodbye to several others that I have closely worked with for many years - people that were very good at what they did and very good to be around.

To all of you that did not make it through yesterday, I wish you the best of luck, even though I know that all of you will do fine because of who you are, luck or not. I will miss you and will feel very awkward for the next week or so - your empty offices will be a stark reminder of yesterday.

But life goes on. Keep in touch and be strong.

That's it - move along...


DAK said...

That's a really beautiful letter NotThat. You're right -- it is always a bean-counter decision made from far away. Barb went through downsizing after acquisition after downsizing after acquisition and it was painful every single time. It's all about survival. But why would Apple down-size? Just because I never use my I-Pod?

meuli said...

We were the envy of many, and User Pubs was the best job in my career. The people made it so. I am so sad to hear this news. Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. You are such a good writer. Stay positive and keep on writing your fun and honest commentary.

TL said...

I second everything NotThat said. Thank you for putting it in words.

mary ann said...

Lovely words and thoughts here, notthat. It is heartbreaking to hear about this - when we went through with it at the Big Box, it was such SWEET revenge when those who planned the firings were themselves pushed out about 6 months later. Karma.