There is nothing quite like staring down the barrel of impending dooooooom.
Which is what I have been doing lately.
I haven’t wanted to to say this out loud because there is nothing that brings out my shame quite as quickly as the fear that *in a booming voice* everyone is going to work out I’m a bit shit. But I can take away some of that power if I own the narrative and try to reason with it.
There has been a restructure at work (never a good sign) and with that change I’m losing my job. And there isn’t a darned thing I can do about it. The role I am currently in is about to be expanded so that it more accurately supports the business. I no longer fulfil the requirements. It’s no one’s specific fault; it’s just that I am not skilled enough (yet) for what is now required. I might be proficient enough in a couple of years, but I can’t do what is needed at the moment. I don’t have enough training or experience. This is the first time I’ve ever actually lost my job, I’m not sure I am a fan of and prefer it never happens again (she says emphatically).
So I have been wallowing. A lot. This sparkling job that I have just been loving will no longer be mine. My colleagues will change. I won’t be a part of managing my beautiful team. I’m battling shame and hopelessness and anger and depression and anxiety and and and and...
Today’s question has been, what next? How do I even approach this behemoth? And as a friend used to say, I’m just going to start eating this elephant one bite at a time. I keep thinking about how regular this is in the museum industry, and of all the heartbreaking stories you hear of people working for institutions that they love only to find themselves looking for new employment. I am not the only one this happens to, and that is bloody awful.
My psychologist, who is helping me to adjust to this change, thinks that I should be speaking more kindly to myself. So I’m practising talking to myself as if I were one of my lovely team. I suppose you could say that I am practising my mentoring skills by recognising that I need mentoring as well. Everyone needs someone in their corner, giving them a boost and steering them in the right direction. I’m cracking out my books on management techniques and brushing up on courage and vulnerability in workplaces.
This is what I think I would say to myself if I were managing me at the moment:
“You can apply for the position if you want to, and I will give you my full support if you need it. I know that I’m going to be on the panel, but I will hook you up with people who can help. If you don’t want to apply, that’s okay too. I’m here to help you find the right option for you. As your mentor, I want to see you succeed. If you are applying for other roles, please let me know so that I can help you wherever possible. We didn’t change the position because we didn’t want you to apply, we needed to reflect all the other tasks that the role will now need to cover.
You are probably going to feel awful, give yourself some time to process. You will have lots of emotions, and I want to make sure you feel supported around that. We can cry together and eat cake. I understand if you are angry. We have lots of support options available if you need them. If you need time off, I completely understand.
This restructuring is the right thing for us, but I wish I could have known earlier so that we could have made this work better. There isn’t anything you could have done, and it’s a choice that wasn’t actually really about you. Your management team has appreciated the time and effort into this role, and we need to cover some holes in what the business needs. We are working our hardest with all the other teams in the department to find you something else that could work, and if that doesn’t work, we have back up options. We should also plot out what type of training and experience would help you in the future, in case this role comes up again. Let’s be proactive together in building your career.
I’d like to see the projects you have been working on. I know you don’t have much time left, but I was excited to see them. I know you might be feeling raw about this, but let’s see if we can kick a whole lot of arse together in the next few weeks, and have some fun along the way. I’ll help to sort out the handovers that will need to happen, let’s work together to figure out how to make that as painless as possible.
This moment is a bit awful, but things will get better. You will keep learning and meet new colleagues and find new histories to talk about. Not every workplace is going to end in misery. You are a newbie in your career, and you have lots of excellent skills and talents. I believe that you are going to be awesome”
Museum working, game playing and dog loving geek. Tune in for musings about the GLAM sector, and generally geekiness.