A Path Through Redundancy

By Brian Hobby

After many years working for the same company “my role became redundant“.

Pay attention to the exact words, they are important; as words always are. I’m a believer in the power of words to influence how we see things and in an emotionally charged environment like redundancy discussions words are particularly important.

The important distinction here is “role“; you are not redundant.

Many people I know have had at least 1, if not more, roles become redundant on them – all of them are excellent and skilled folks at the leading edge of competency in what they do.

It’s not about you, it’s very seldom if ever actually about you. My view is that if more people stepped back and realised that it would make it far more pleasant for everybody.

So what was my reaction to that? Well, I’d been partly expecting it but it still comes as a shock, even if you are prepared. I’ve done various courses thanks to work over my many varied roles so I took a deep breath and applied some of it.

One of the things I’ve learnt is that all events are just that, events. We can choose how to react to them. So after taking that deep breath I chose to see it as positive, and an opportunity.

Having been at the organisation for a while the payout was reasonable. I also had some leave plus long service owing so was in no immediate need of finding paying work. I am forever grateful to my wife who pushed me to take the leave and figure out what I really wanted to do next; the condition was the house renovations got finished. This wasn’t a bad thing as the physical work freed the mind somewhat to drift and think about what next…..

Part of the redundancy package was support from Lee Hecht Harrison whom I can thoroughly recommend. This drove me to look hard at what I really wanted to do and what roles may appeal; as well as examining how I work and what is important to me in the workplace. It also triggered much thinking about what is important to me in life.

My short list of priorities:

  • Health – without that you have nothing
  • My Son and not missing him growing up (meaning you need to YouTube don’t you know)
  • My Wife and my relationship with her
  • Community and Environment
  • Live Theatre (my Brisbane theatre home CTG and a recent review of why I do this)

Interesting to note that work doesn’t feature there at all! From my discussions with others through my life thus far I’ve had several conversations with parents of “grown up” children who have expressed regret that they “missed their kids growing up” because they were working too much. An article that crossed my various info feeds confirmed as much from the palliative care perspective.

So with much thinking and personal development under my belt many discussions were had about what would work for us as a family. My wife regularly travels in her job so I’m the primary carer of our son. Given all the other constraints the major simple gauge for if something would work for us was “did it let me extract the boy from school at 1500hrs every day”.

Over the time I was finishing the renovations several roles piqued my interest, could have had several of them, but even with most companies paying lip service to “flexible working hours” they weren’t prepared to allow me to extract the boy daily. I found that when you interview for a job if you have a set of criteria that you know you must meet for it to work for your family the decision on taking the role or not becomes much simpler. The other freeing factor was that we as a family didn’t “need” me to be bringing in extra money. We are both financially conservative and generally try to function so that only one of us needs a job.

There is nothing so empowering when you interview for a job as knowing you don’t have to take it!

My other tip is if you are looking for work don’t be afraid to let your circles know about it. You never know what will turn up in a conversation – for example it turns out my neighbour worked for a recruiting company and a fellow theatre tech remote lectured for the Engineering Institute of Technology.

So where am I now? Well keep your networks alive because as a result of conversations over coffee with a contractor who worked for me I got a phone call that went “are you bored being at home yet? I’ve got a casual role piloting what we were talking about over coffee all those months ago, are you interested?” Well the answer was yes and it lets me extract the boy at 1500hrs every day. It turns out that EIT needed some of my technical teaching skills as well so I’m a contract lecturer for them too which means some early mornings and not too late evenings which fit nicely with the family needs.

I still maintain that any decade now I’ll actually know what I really want to do!

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