Sunday, May 09, 2010

It may have sounded like anger; actually it was just disappointment

Two people have remarked that a previous blog post about my current job coming to an end sounded ‘angry’ (or made me sound angry). I’m not surprised because sometimes it’s easy to think any criticism or confrontational commentary is anger.

Words can sound angry when you read them in your head, but wouldn’t sound angry if the person said them because far more is conveyed in the tone of voice we use than in the actual words we use. If you heard me saying those things you’d know I wasn’t particularly angry.

That’s not to say there weren’t times when I felt angry. Of course I did. It’s hard to experience a redundancy process – even one you welcome because you have another job to go to – and not feel angry sometimes.

It’s hard not to feel angry when you’re told that the financial crisis has been brewing for over six months. Especially if during those six months one of your jobs was to make sure the Chief Execs expansionist vision statement was turned into posters to put up around the building.

What exactly are you meant to make of that?

It’s hard when you know that people have gotten in touch to say how much the things you’ve worked on have helped them, but then it seems your job is going because only ‘frontline’ jobs are staying. I think my job was frontline. Communicating the mission of our organisation, and providing useful material to the public. Raising funds. Promoting activities.

In what way aren’t those frontline?

And it’s just plain irritating when you ask who you should hand stuff over to and you’re made to feel like you’re being a troublemaker for asking the questions. I genuinely wanted to know who to give things to. In the end I had to make educated guesses.

When people don’t seem to know who will be responsible for the bits of your job that are going to carry on, it does make you wonder how well thought through the plans are.

Is all I’m saying.

It also doesn’t help when you’re in a meeting with a project manager who is on the verge of tears because of the stress. This is someone who is staying and is scared and confused at the prospect. I had to reassure her that things were going to be okay, even though I had no real conviction that they would.

Should it be the responsibility of the people leaving to reassure those who are staying in employment that everything is going to be okay?

And I realise you, dear blog reader, may be reading all these unanswerable rhetorical questions and be thinking ‘Man, he sounds angry!’ But believe me I’m not. I’ve quite literally moved on – into a job where I am both wanted and needed. My first week in the new job saw me hit the ground running with no shortage of urgent projects to sink my teeth into.

I don’t have time to be angry. What I do feel is disappointment.

The thing I’ve said to many people is I never expected to leave my previous job that way. Maybe to move on in a halo of glory, with well wishes and cries of ‘We’ll miss you’. Or even to be thrown out of the building and have the door-codes changed behind me. But never to go like that, as one of over 30 people, and to have my team just dissolved, with no one to replace us, or to take up the baton and promise to maintain the high standards we reached.

I think the greatest cause of my disappointment through all this is the recognition that much of what we worked for is going to be lost. And I can't shake the sense that it's because what we did wasn’t recognised and valued in the first place.