If you’ve recently been redundant from a job or organisation that you have loved and poured your heart into (or are going through that process right now) read on. Here are my thoughts, both as an ex-senior leader in the arts who has been through this, and as a leadership and change/transition coach who now supports people through challenging transitions such as redundancy. With a little bit of support, you can emerge from this painful process with new perspective, empathy, confidence and purpose. Better, brighter and more you. Believe me.
This is what you need to know about the process of transition that you face.
It’s good to remember that while the change which has been forced upon you is being made redundant, it is the process of transition which you actually experience, the psychological process of coming to terms with and coming through a painful ending to create a new beginning for yourself. This process of transition has three key stages:
The ending. The neutral zone. The new beginning.
Let’s take one at a time.
Being made redundant can create a whole lot of losses, all in one fell swoop. It is shocking. By losing our role we can also lose our sense of belonging, our community of comrades, friends and colleagues, our financial security, our stability, our self-esteem and confidence and perhaps most disorientating of all, our sense of self and identity.
That is a lot of loss in one go. It can bring about a sense of real grief, and is emotional as well as practical. You will need time to get over that, and learn to let go of what has been before. And also let go of all the feelings you have around it, which could include sadness, anger, frustration, resentment against others and shame.
The neutral zone
This is the bit in the middle. You’re not who you were before and you are not yet who will go on to be. There is so much confusion and discomfort and so many unanswered questions.
- Who am I if I am not….?
- What do I have to offer?
- Will anyone want me?
- What else can I do ?
- What other possibilities are out there?
- How do I recover my confidence?
- What do I really want next?
The neutral zone is where the real transition happens. It isn’t a nice state to be in and our tendency is to rush either backwards to what we knew before or forwards to something that isn’t quite right, but if at all possible, allow yourself to just wait. It is important to sit in it for a while, reflect and wait until the time comes when your direction comes to find you. This is a time to be alone, journal, explore, experiment and rediscover the very best of you and what is right for the next stage of your life.
The new beginning
This is the time when you have comes to terms with your loss, you have absorbed all the learning from the neutral zone period and you are starting to move forward again in a new direction, with new purpose, with energy, motivation and hope. The new beginning isn’t like a light switch but a process of you forging your new path, which will hopefully be brighter and better than before. You are still you, but you move forward with a new perspective, knowledge and sense of purpose.
(This three stage transitions model is from William Bridges, from his best-selling book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. This book is a life-changer at times of major change).
What can help most?
Getting some help from a coach. I am not just saying this because I am a coach, but because talking to someone who can help you understand the process you are going through, process all those emotions and also support you to explore your options, rediscover your confidence and joy for life, and create a new path that is perfect for you, will massively help you to move forward.
How and why can I help?
Many years ago, I lost a leadership role and a sense of community that I loved in way which felt hugely unfair and disrespectful at the time, so I know how it feels to be in your position. I didn’t know how to handle it then, I didn’t know what I know now, and I really wish I had had someone with the experience to help me through what was a painful (emotional and physical) transition.
The second time I was made redundant due to a restructure, it was a much better process as it was my mutual agreement. I even got some transition coaching as part of my redundancy package (that is worth asking for by the way) and this helped me hugely.
And working with my own coach led me to find my own perfect career, moving from cultural leadership to coaching cultural leaders and professionals (and those in similar purpose-driven roles). I have my dream job now and never looked back.
So if you are in the process of being made redundant, then why not invest in some specialist coaching to support you through the process of getting from where you are now to a new place of confidence and purpose. There is life (good life) after redundancy!
Direct message me for more info and a conversation about how my Brilliant Transitions 1-1 or group coaching programmes can help you.
And if you would like to join my friendly facebook community going through change and transition, request here: