Surviving a Layoff & How to Move Forward | Is This Mic On?

In this Is This Mic On? We answer the question, “What do I do after surviving a layoff?” Read on to hear what SNP had to say about moving forward, solving problems, and connecting colleagues.

What do I do after surviving a layoff?

Dear SNP,

Every time I enter the office I’m greeted with ghosts of company’s past. A round of layoffs wiped out my team. Sometimes I still feel their presence in the recurring meeting invites they’re still on, lifeless Slack channels, and the piles of untouched work that I don’t have the time nor energy to get done alone. I can’t help but feel frustrated with the grim reapers (higher-ups) who expect the same results from those of us still lurking in the halls with our heads cut off…it feels like the 9-5 of the Living Dead. How do we move forward into the light?


The Headless IC

Dear Headless IC

Ok, I get it – the Halloween theme and all. Grim Reaper. Ghosts. Headless Horsepeople. Be that as it may: it’s time for a reframe.

You first need to choose to move forward. And no, I am not going full witch-manifestation mode (though, thematic). It’s just simply making the decision: are you mourning, or are you moving? Are you sulking or supporting? Instigating or inspiring? Enough with the alliteration, you get it, right? You have choices to make on your mindset, actions, and energy. So let’s lay out three of them. With more alliteration – and pulling on some dreadful Halloween-inspired verbs for the comparison.

Moving versus Mourning

You may indeed be mourning. So: put a time limit on that mourning, because it’s keeping you stuck. And if you are a leader on a team, remember that leadership isn’t a title or a tenure – you can help your colleagues. We all cast a shadow (oooo…spooky). The words we say. How we say them. What we write. The emojis that we use. Our facial expressions. If you lead a team, your shadow may be wider; you have more eyes on you. All of us, however, affect, influence and impact the culture of the team. So make a choice. Ask yourself, and maybe write it down…

  • What is your intention? Your highest purpose. Is it to contribute to your team’s success? Positively impact the culture? We know your intention here is heliotropic even in the darkest times – so write it down for yourself.
  • What is your attitude? So many options here. Are you frustrated, disenchanted…or are you optimistic and curious? Be honest about what your attitude is and what you want it to be, choose, and write it down. 
  • What is your behavior? This is again a decision. What are the actions you’ll take in order to embody your attitude? Is it to stop talking and listen? Slow down? Make eye contact? Make a choice and again, write it down. 

The point: you’re making choices on the above every day, even if you don’t make a conscious choice. So bring it into the light and decide: moving, or mourning? 

Solving versus Stewing

You see a problem: same expectations, fewer resources. Now: come with a solution. An innovative idea is also agnostic of title and tenure. And a point of view is uniquely yours to be able to articulate, so formulate your recommendation. Perhaps in the format of: Problem, Impact, Solution, Ramifications

  • Problem: State the problem statement as you see it. Perhaps it is a missing skill set. Or a product roadmap that hasn’t caught up to the current day. Short. Succinct. Remember this isn’t about stewing on (or admiring, as I’ve heard some leaders call it) the problem. This is about being clear on what it is, without emotion. Now, without the rest of the framework, the problem may just be considering whining…that’s why you move into…
  • Impact: Who and what does this problem impact? Is it a launch deadline? The quality of a program? Revenue realization? Again, be clear on the impact to the company––the mission, goals, KPIs. Articulate how this problem impacts what the company, organization, and teams care about. 
  • Solution: What is your suggestion? Is it to re-prioritize some projects? Focus your own time and energy strategically in order to complete some of those top projects, then move on to the next. You understand the constraints and the possibilities of your team enough to be able to put an idea on the table. Again, make it succinct. The operations and execution of it can come up during the conversation – this is just a chance to share the headline. 
  • Ramifications: The actual impact. By implementing the above solution, what are the results? This can include both positive and challenging outcomes. Be prepared to share both sides and ultimately why this idea will positively impact the business. Know your audience and tie the impact back to what they care about. 

Connecting versus Commiserating

Now, at the same time, let’s take this outside. Acknowledge your former co-workers. They are still a part of your community, part of your ecosystem. Some of them may have become personal friends. Be a connector. Every single one of us has had a supporter in our career. A sponsor, if you will. Maybe one (or more) of your sponsors are the same grim reapers of whom you speak. So a question you can ask yourself: who am I sponsoring/could I sponsor? Be a proactive connector, making thoughtful introductions between two individuals, based on what you know they both care about. An email could sound something like:

Writing today as a connection of two people interested in the intersection of AI and customer acquisition. 

Pennywise: Michael is originally from Illinois, and has been involved in his family business for more than 30 years. His industry experience includes healthcare and hospital administration, construction management, and public safety. 

Michael: Pennywise has a unique background in theatre and performance, he continuously refines both his target audience and messaging. You both have a commitment to your own personal presence and appreciate the consistency of a signature look. 

I’ll back out of the conversation, letting you both connect. 

[Author’s note: please don’t connect inexplicably fire-resistant murderers to killer clowns with an unlimited supply of red balloons…use your connections for good.]

So dear reader: you have choices.

How you show up. What you suggest. Who you support. Affix your head back onto your shoulders, acknowledge and thank the ghosts of the past, look the grim reapers in the eye…and go forth. 

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