Separation Anxiety

These days it’s a common sight to spy 2 engineers with their heads together, like a pair of conspirators. It’s would be surprising because designing notebooks isn’t a particularly covert operation. I know it when I see it, though. It’s the rumors of layoffs bringing people together this way, with furtive looks cast over shoulders. The halls are relatively quiet. Everyone’s laying low.

The rumors have been rampant for weeks. Productivity is down. Morale is down. Job searches are up. Many are just hoping against hope they can collect a severance package to tide them over until they land on safer ground.

I desperately want to soothe fears, calm nerves and help create focus on the immediate needs of the organization. I firmly believe there is no benefit in worrying. Yet we are human. There are bills to pay, families to feed. Worry is our nature.

There doesn’t seem to be enough work to do. While some are seeking to flee, others are fighting to stay. They scrabble and scramble, making their presence and their contribution front and center so they are noticed and credited. Their behavior is no more healthy than the fretting.

And where is management? In the last 2 weeks, no fewer than 3 layers of management have shifted or disappeared completely. I’ve never seen such a vast change in organizational leadership. The expectation seems to be that the soldiers will sort things out themselves. Or maybe it’s a game of survival of the fittest.

But the rules of the game have changed. The demands are different. And the rumors prevail. Yet…another week has passed without a Reduction In Force. (But it’s only Thursday, you say. Yes, but everyone knows…no RIF happens on a Friday.)

“What’s to be made of that?” I ask.

“Next week,” they say with a nod. “Next week.”

And that’s life in the halls of My Former Employer.