How do I wait out a re-org?
January 13, 2018 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I won’t go into a long detailed story about what happened at my job. It’s an old story that has happened to so many of us, but I need advice on handling the situation.

Nutshell Version: My long-time beloved boss was tossed out, a new boss was waiting in the wings (in another work group) and now he’s our new boss. (He’s a smart guy and knows his stuff. I don’t have any personal animosity for him at all.)

A reorganization is on the horizon in a few months, my long-time boss and I saw it coming about a year or so ago when the fellow in the wings was hired. Our thinking was my boss would be first and then I’d be next – I am the “number two” in on our 10 person team. Some – but not all – people on the rest of the team have been getting strong hints they’re on their way out. I am getting no such blatant hints.

But for many reasons (what I make, part of the old guard, what I know from the senior grapevine etc.) I am almost certain I will be out. But they can’t get rid of me quickly – I can only be reorganized out. It’s a mandated formal process.

The knowledge of my impending ousting is not what I need advice about – it’s how to handle the stress of waiting.

I do want to wait it out because if I do I am guaranteed to get my full pension (I am about 10 years from retirement) and my severance, which could easily last me 2+ years if I am a bit careful. If I quit, no severance and no full pension when I retire. My thinking is I could spend time with my family for a year or so then look for a job for my last 7-8 years before retirement. It could pay less and even be fun as I would be okay in terms of retirement finances.

But of course the powers that be know these financial facts and so far others in my broader work group (not in my office) have been quitting before their severance as the powers in charge made work very hard for them – things like moving them to a unpleasant work spot (office to cube, cube to an open desk etc.), piling on the work or giving them no work, giving them meaningless work, talking away their key tasks and giving them make-work tasks….

It’s getting a bit hard for me in those same ways – and with each new meeting it’s getting harder. So far they need what’s in my head, but soon enough I will have finished typing out reams of information and then who knows what they will ask me to do. My regular tasks are slowly being taken away day by day.

I am being as pleasant and cooperative as I am pretty good at that. But I get home and it’s hard to not be cranky with my family. I am trying hard not to be.

It could be a few months – at the most a year –of waiting. What should I do to make it easier? My feeling is do what they tell me, be cooperative and sit tight.

My second question is should I actually tell them I suspect that I will be re-orged out and that I am fine with it? I have gotten of advice saying absolutely don’t do that. But all this game playing is so weird.
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm sorry you're going through this. You're planning for the worst, and I agree that you should. It's rare that a new regime doesn't want to start fresh.

I assume that staying where you are is out of your control. (Whether you're passionate about what you do i can't gauge.)

I get that you're asking for how to manage your feelings and not seeking career advice. My take is that what you do contributes to how you feel. So here are some things that have helped me.

1. Do what you can to help your new boss see the future. Don't wait to be asked. And do it knowing it might not benefit you.

2. "Manage up," as a friend of mine put it. Let your boss know what you're worth by reporting regularly on what you're doing.

These might help you stay where you are, but, more importantly, will make you an agent in a situation beyond your control.

3. Actively seek other jobs (everything you're saying suggests you don't believe you're going to be kept on until you receive your full pension). Interviewing and talking about your experience really helps right-size your view of your current job and might offer new opportunities.

4. Start networking or networking more than you have been. (I hate networking but it's essential. Take an interest in folks in your field or whom you admire and see where that leads.)

5. Take at least one class NOW. (Maybe it's utterly unrelated to your field. It could be martial arts. it could be screenwriting. it could be drawing. Pursue what interests you. A career- or life change could be a positive step in another direction.)

6. Volunteer at something. (This can really be life-changing. Helping others is the best way to put your own challenges into perspective.)

Start seeing the bigger picture now. I promise that all of the things that will broaden your perspective will be harder to approach for a while once you've been ousted if that should happen.

If you're doing some or all of the above, i expect you'll be less anxious and less cranky. Wishing you the best.
posted by brynnwood at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Can you “work” from home?
posted by crazycanuck at 3:15 PM on January 13, 2018 [1 favorite]

It could be a few months – at the most a year –of waiting. What should I do to make it easier? My feeling is do what they tell me, be cooperative and sit tight.

Yes, I would do this. Particularly in your situation. Be quite wary, because they'll be looking for reasons to fire you for cause.

Do what you can to survive the period. Find other things which make you happy, listen to podcasts at work (if allowed). I know it sucks, but look at it as a job with a potentially big payoff. Take the vacation you can without raising eyebrows.

In the meantime, you might want to think about what happens if you are not on the list. Not to give yourself hope, but just to have a BATNA in case they don't make you an offer. Networking is always a good idea, if you aren't active with it already.

My second question is should I actually tell them I suspect that I will be re-orged out and that I am fine with it? I have gotten of advice saying absolutely don’t do that. But all this game playing is so weird.

The answer to this depends on where you are and the nature of the formal process. But my general advice would also be to absolutely not to do this. Where I have worked in the past, asking for a package often triggers a separate process which has an often less desirable outcome than waiting it out. Essentially it goes like this-- you open the door, you have less choices.

On the other hand, sometimes organisations will offer voluntary packages to all takers, and that's fine to respond in that case. If they open the door, you can step through.
posted by frumiousb at 3:41 PM on January 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

1. Calculate the value of how much money you make it you stick it out - the full pension plus severance pay.
2. Divide this by the number of days or hours that you have to stick it out to earn that much extra money.
That is the bonus that you get paid for every day for just showing up for work - on top of your regular salary. When you start to get annoyed, remind yourself that you are choosing to do this for a very good reason ($$$)

In the meanwhile work on improving the rest of your life. If much of your satisfaction comes from work, what else can you focus on that give you gives you meaningful satisfaction in a different way. Volunteer? Learn in a new skill? Reactivate an old hobby/dream? Maybe think about what you would want to do in the year or two of free time that you are hoping for and start moving in that direction.

I wouldn't look for a new job, but think about what you will want to put in place to have a solid resume in place when you do look (especially if there is a gap) Maybe networking activities? A class? Put some energy into laying the groundwork for your next step so that not only will you b more prepared but also that future will seem more real.
posted by metahawk at 3:44 PM on January 13, 2018 [14 favorites]

Looks like an endurance contest, so the next question is: how stubborn are you? If you're a stubborn person by nature, then you have a chance at outlasting the waiting game, if it's worth dealing with the BS to get what you want. Some people don't have the patience for it. (Tip for dealing: embrace your inner stubbornness.)

Second question: just don't do that. Rule of thumb: don't be candid with entities that don't have your best interests at heart. Game playing is weird, but you're in the game now, so just play it.
posted by ovvl at 3:50 PM on January 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

Others can correct me if this is nonsense or much easier said than done (I haven't experienced anything like this personally), but aside from 'piling on the work,' a lot of the 'punishments' sound like paradise for a disaffected cogperson. Like, think about all the less effective teammates you've ever had -- the people who manage to bungle real work with opportunity for impact into useless make-work, the people you wonder "what do you do all day" when you haven't seen evidence of work for weeks, etc. (I may or may not be describing myself at some points of employment here...)

It seems like you'll now be happier at your job if you can take on their mentality. It's now an endurance contest, so sit tight with newly shifted goals: draw pay. If you fear that apathy is habit-forming, get a new hobby, do your work pro bono, or generally find something else to care about. Make sure you have friends outside work.
posted by batter_my_heart at 5:26 PM on January 13, 2018 [4 favorites]

Maybe also look into your local (state/province) or national laws around constructive dismissal.
posted by eviemath at 5:00 AM on January 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of calculating what the payout for staying and making them give you the package works out to every day, and reminding yourself that this is your bonus. Checking into the laws around constructive dismissal is also an excellent idea.

And, in the meantime, relax! You need to do what they ask well enough so that they don't have a reason to fire you for cause, but you don't have to be particularly quick in retyping those documents. Use your time to talk to people in the office whose company you enjoy, find out what's going on in other areas of your workplace, network in your field, read trade and career relevant material (broadly defined, of course) etc.. Maybe you could volunteer for some kind of corporate activity, say something connected to the wellness programme, that you might enjoy?

And, of course, it's flu season in the western hemisphere right now, and you wouldn't want to infect your colleagues, especially if you've got sick time to use, right? All of this is stressful and that can affect a person's immune system...
posted by rpfields at 7:51 AM on January 14, 2018

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