Both groups of people are usually wrong. I have seen too many people who took the money eagerly and lived to regret leaving rashly. I have seen others who worked out their whole careers without incident but always under a cloud of fear.
A redundancy is not something that you should approach with fear or favour. A redundancy just is. Redundancies are just another form of involuntary change in your role. These days careers require a lot of voluntary and involuntary change, especially in large organisations. The accelerating pace of change from digital disruption makes role change ever more likely.
I know a little bit about redundancies. I have been made redundant on a number of occasions in my career. Some times it meant I left an organisation. Some times it just meant a role change. People don't often discuss redundancies but many senior leaders have had the same experience and their careers have continued on to success.
I have recently experienced another redundancy with changes in the business that I was leading for a large financial services organisation. I am sorely disappointed because I love the role, customers and team. I am more disappointed because there are wide impacts for my team.
In the spirit of sharing lessons for others who one day may be in the same situation, here's what I have learned about redundancies in my career.
There is such a thing as being in the wrong place at the wrong time: A redundancy is not about you. Your employer is required to say that, but it really is more about the change the organisation is going through and the contribution of your role in future. Some times the changes are for small and arbitrary reasons. Accept the change and move on. Roles are not eternal and need to change over time.
You are not your role or your company: The first step is recognising that you are not your role. Even if your current employer is the only place you have worked, you are not that organisation. You can let go. You are much more than the
contribution your role makes to one employer. That insight is the beginning of everything else you will do with your career.
Accept the emotion. Redundancies are emotional. There will be bad days and a few awful ones. Lean in to them but don't let them define you or your attitude.
Every redundancy comes at the right time: It wasn't your choice in the timing. Make it the right time for you with how it drives your career now.
Taking the money is a financial & career calculation: If you have choices, don't jump straight for the cheque. Often it is not that much money when all things are considered, especially if it means that you lose a significant bonus or other incentives. Consider your options well. How marketable are your skills? What will you earn in roles outside of your employer? Across industries, there can be significant variation in remuneration. You may need to step back to start again somewhere else. How long will it take you to find a new role? Are you better looking for a role with a job? If the money pays out your debt, your retirement is near or if you have another role lined up, then a cheque can be a nice wealth enhancer. Otherwise take care.
Careers go in many directions: Careers don't go straight ahead. You have been handed a chance to change direction. Use it wisely. What strengths would you like to use more? What do you enjoy doing most? What have you always wanted to try? If you are leaving or staying, you may have the flexibility to experiment as you seek a new direction.
Start thinking external value: What does your job title mean in the real world? Do other companies even have your role? Focus on the things that you do that are marketable externally. These things will drive your value internally too. What generic skills have you learned that apply to any role? How might you need to sell yourself to land the role you want
Get out your Individual or Personal Development Plan: The real one. Not the one you produce for your current employer for compliance sake. You need to be using the real plan that will be the engine room of your new career. All the things that you have put off you now need to do in earnest - networking, clarifying your skills and experiences, positioning yourself for opportunities, researching opportunities, etc.
Sort out your finances: Most people have some financial decisions that they have been putting off. A redundancy is a good reminder to get them sorted. A few adjustments can create a lot of room to explore your choices. Make some contingency plans for the downside. If you are lucky enough to have money on hand or not need money then why are you reading this?
Above all don't rush: Lots of people will give you unhelpful advice about the speed at which you need to act. This is particularly true of those recruitment consultants and headhunters who want to rush you into another role to make a
commission. Career transitions can take time. Landing in the right role slowly is far better than landing in a bad choice quickly.
Be true to your heart: When pushed most of us know what decisions we should make. Be true to that instinct. This is a fabulous opportunity to find a role that enables you to better fulfil your purpose. Careers can recover from many mistakes but they rarely recover from regret.
If you are not yet redundant, consider these things and act now before time is against you. The best way to manage the risk of a redundancy is to be well prepared for that eventuality all the time. As noted above, it is an ever present part of corporate life.
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