What to do when your friends get whacked
January 22, 2009 9:49 PM   Subscribe

Layoffs: my best work buddy and right hand guy at work just got laid off. Have any coping strategies for me?

I work on a 20 person team and one guy got the hit. I'm a bit stunned. Everybody on the team liked the guy, and we have no idea who is going to do all that damned work he was supposed to do. I had lunch with the guy 3 days a week and was on IM and talking to him every day, a real sweetie. Of course I need him to do work for me too. But now he is gone.

I've been through a layoff before but never as a survivor. I'd almost prefer to be laid off, there are rumours that the layoffs will continue. I'm surprised I feel so upset about having one of my friends laid off. What are some coping strategies you have for surviving layoffs?
posted by crazycanuck to Work & Money (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I am a survivor of multiple layoffs. It is craptacular. In addition to associated changes in your company and job parameters, there is fear, anger, uncertainty, doubt, paranoia, sadness, confusion, cynicism, bitterness, and resentment. Rumors will be running wild. Some of your coworkers will be negative and pessimistic. Others will be annoyingly optimistic. You will be getting at least one sugar-coated, rah-rah-rah 'explanation'/pep talk. You will be asked to do more, or to make it happen despite the drop in manpower. Your coworkers will start investigating the job market. You should too. Even if you decide to stay, know what your options are out there. It will provide balance so you aren't making decisions completely out of fear of being one of the next layoff round. Information is your best tool right now.

It can be a good time to renegotiate your job responsibilities, and in the process get more information. I know this sounds backward, but if you have the right kind of boss (or there's a sympathetic manager in the upper echelon), walk in his or her office, sit down and ask direct questions. Where is the company going? What will they be focusing on? Do they understand that some work will have to be sacrificed now? You can use this information to either: Find out what work is going to be critical going forward and get in the critical path, Find out what is likely to happen to your team and tip off your friends/plan accordingly, Determine if your company is dying or merely thinning down to survive this downturn, and/or Determine if this is going to be a company you want to continue to work for.

Try and keep in touch with the people (you like/could be useful) who are laid off. Help them find new jobs. I've done everything from passing on leads to editing resumes to being a reference. I still IMed and emailed the friends who were laid off, and tried to make sure we kept in touch at varying levels. It'll take more work to arrange lunch meetups or dinners or other outings with those people, but it's worth it. I have some excellent friendships that evolved from work lunch buddies to something with legs.
posted by julen at 11:01 PM on January 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


Thanks julen. I wish I could just take him out for lunch sometime. He's got 60 days to get back to Australia from the US. I would start looking for a new job too, but if I left my employer I'd have to start my green card application over again (I'm three years in) and I'd need a severance package to help me move back to Canada.
posted by crazycanuck at 5:17 AM on January 23, 2009


I would respectfully like to recommend that you cease considering yourself the victim here and concentrate on how you could best help your friend. look, you already made clear this person is cool and he just got the axe. he is probably crushed right now. this is the time for you to get active on his behalf.

offer your help to him. you think he is a good employee, so offer to call your friends and email his resume to people you know. make it clear to people you know you think he is cool and your company is going through a tough time and they should consider him if they have an opening and need a real star.

you are sending two signals to both your laid off friend and your contacts: you are a real friend who stands up for your buddies and you may be available for opportunities yourself. you wrote yourself that you think there may be more layoffs. this is a prime opportunity to get cracking on your own resume and remind people you're someone they like before you do actually have to survive another round of layoffs.

as far as stacking the deck in your favor internally goes: work harder than you usually do, no matter how hard you currently work. you want to take this as a warning shot. if there will be future layoffs it's likely they will cut whoever they consider the most expendable (=not enough crucial projects on their plates, not enough of a difference made) or the most expensive. you can't do much about the second but you can volunteer for anything you can fit into your workday on top of what you are currently doing. go beyond the outlined tasks and what is expected of you.
posted by krautland at 6:41 AM on January 23, 2009


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