While I do not want my return to semi-regular blogging here to be all about work and it’s changes, for the moment I have to accept that it is for this weekend at least all about work and it’s changes. This too is temporary and will pass.
Thanks for all the kind and supportive comments. I very much appreciate you reading and taking a moment to share your thoughts.
An email announcement went out yesterday after the papers were signed and originals shipped out via FedEx. Typically I am consulted on communications of such weight with staff, but as in the way things are moving forward, I am now part of the staff. It is appropriate and as it should be; the partners are the owners and shareholders of the firm and made this decision after much discussion and thoughtful consideration. It is like we are children of divorce: definitely a consideration of the parents’ decisions, but not a party to the actual decision-making process. I’ll be honest – I feel hurt by that. The decision-making is 100% theirs, but the communication afterwards? I am the one whose telephone and text began blowing up immediately after staff received the news. It would have been nice to be forwarned, as I am probably the only person in the firm who does not have her work email pinging on her iPhone. But this is my choice to not stay in touch with work 24/7; I suppose this is one of those minor consequences of that choice.
To their credit, it was an incredibly nice, sensitive, thoughtful and caring email. Or it was the best example of those attributes when such life-altering news is delivered to the unsuspecting. It outlines the primary reasons and motivating factors behind the decision and describes next steps with regard to the transition, the severance that will be offered to anyone who is not offered a position with the new organization. It reinforces all the reasons I like and respect my bosses to such a high degree, yet at then same time and to a lesser degree demonstrates a key weakness in their ability to relate to the long-term, far-reaching impact this has upon their employees.
While they built this firm themselves and have poured countless amounts energy and sweat equity into building it into something so viable and successful, I know that I done a lot of work to breathe community into the staff who grew it into something really special. That’s hard for me to release my territorial protectiveness of them right now. My anxiety over the impacts on the rest of the staff is real. If the partners are the originators and rainmakers, I infused the heart, soul, and got-your-back team spirit of those who work so hard most days of the week to make it happen. As a firm, we are not all about billable hours 24/7, although yes, we all recognize the importance of staying profitable. The dog-eat-dog culture of most professional services firms is a distant echo in our hallways, and I know it is a direct result of my influence on the human policies governing salaries, bonuses, promotions, office space, even taking time off.
I suppose if I am freaked out over anything, it’s how to help the staff manage their own emotions in this tumultuous time. I have known about this outcome was a possibility for more than 6 months, yet even I was blindsided by it actually coming to fruition under cloak of secrecy and cover of darkness. While I understand business is business and family is family, the attorneys, paralegals, and my receptionist/admin – I genuinely care about their long-term well being. And accepting things will change so dramatically in less than a month is difficult. I console myself it has been less than 24 hours, and tomorrow there will be an office full of people waiting for more information and hoping for some reassurance about the future. I am presently scheduled on my work-from-home day, because Tuesday we have several things going on that require my presence.
My own codependency is starting to bubble, in that I feel the need to go in and get started taking care of everyone. Today was a struggle to manage my emotions as the realization that the job I love is fading away and my role in this firm is already being eradicated. The phase out began yesterday with the blanket announcement to the staff and continued with small group meeting invitations/announcement for the various hierarchies, something I would have once sat in on as well and now only know about because the associates are telling me and asking if I will be present. No, apparently not.
Much of the Saturday I anticipated being spent working on self-employment matters was instead devoted to text and phone conversations with the staff about what it all means and list-making for things I need to attend to in the next 20 days before we officially merge. There are many questions to ask, plans to be made, training to commence, hand-off of responsibilities. My sense is the merger of systems and administrative tasks will happen quickly. Fortunately for me I have good practices in place and can efficiently hand them off when the time arrives. The way announcement and shutdown of the firm is being handled also leads me to the conclusion that I will be made redundant from day 1, so this could be my final month of having to report for duty with this firm in this office. I am a good and loyal employee, though, and I will do as I am asked to for as long as they need me to continue. I am prepared for that to not extend beyond June 30.
The thought should scare me, yet it doesn’t, not at all. As I said, mostly it hurts my feelings. I want to help with the transition, but instead it feels like I am already just part of the furniture to be transferred to the new entity.
I stopped in the office today to complete a few things minor tasks and bring home some personal files and records I might forget when the time comes to clean out my desk. While I was there a couple of the bosses came in and of course stopped in to talk with me.
There are rare moments when I wish I were not quite so honest about what I think and how I feel. It’s barely been 24 hours and I have already got a bad case of the sads. Staff are blowing up my text and my phone with question for which I have no answers and that’s hard. I feel as if my hours are numbered and not sure how I feel about any of it. And I am mad at them for doing what is in their best interests as owners and shareholders of the firm. While intellectually I understand it, emotionally I know they are ending a job I love. It’s just business, it’s not personal – and I know that, but admit I am still taking it personally because I care, probably too much. I know I will get over it, put on my business manager clothes and game face and push through this. As I said to my bosses, I am just a little heartbroken that it is ending before I am ready to let go.
Which is a big, defining difference between me and them, I think. I may be capable of being professional and fulfilling my responsibilities with autonomous precision, but I am not able to completely compartmentalize in the purest business is business type of ways. I see the human beings behind the job titles and social security numbers in ways a large corporation will never replicate. I don’t know that I want to separate myself so completely that it doesn’t sting when change of this magnitude happens, even when I know the changes are the best things possible for the decision makers.
Knowing I will get over it, that this emotional storm is transitory and come Tuesday (I am off tomorrow doing a Monday self-employment work from day) I will have my business manager cape on and efficiently carrying out the directives to make the transition a smooth one, right now I am sad and unhappy about the direction of my career. I barely slept last night thinking about things. In the gym this morning I found myself blindly pushing forward to burn off some of this fierce emotion, to the point that my shoulder started a slow to furious blink of ouch, Ouch!, OUCH!!!!! before I realized that I was pushing hard and doing something wrong and ignoring it. Thankfully no permanent damage done, but it’s been awhile since my inner angry/hurt girl got loose with 20 lb. dumbbells in her hands.
Perhaps it is better we had the honest conversation today, rather than next week. They know this is particularly hard on me, because of my unique standing in our little firm and likely not even a position to be had after the merger. They were frank with me that my role may possibly be shrinking even during the transition. While they tried to tell me that my exclusion from group staff meetings was because I would not be in the office, the disbelief on my face made them come clean that yeah, it was a decision they made because I am unlikely to be around for the the staff into the future. Weak, but okay.
This is all still brand new and very raw. I have an extra day to pull myself together emotionally and get my game face on. Right now I’m just not sure what that looks like at this point in my career.