Managers, by training and by temperament, are problem solvers.
When mangers are casualties of circumstances beyond our scope, I think we find it harder than others to come to an understanding of “Why me?” and then to find the wherewithal to leave the experience behind.
I often think about that just-turned forty-year old recently published middle manager busily climbing the leadership ladder of a highly acclaimed acute rehab hospital quizzically staring at letter addressed to him on corporate letterhead being slid across a highly shined mahogany table towards him. The slider is my Medical Director prefacing a prepared monologue about the restructuring of the hospital. I was totally not ready for this.
Did my recovery begin with meeting the other cut directors and managers and hearing their disbelief that I too was being “right-sized” by our hospital? Did I find strength with complementary letters of recommendation written by my physicians? Did I find closure in hiring staff out from underneath of my former employer once I was hired by a competing organization?
No, nope, not really.
I was not prepared to manage the loss of my job, a dependable source of income, and be thrown off the rails of a financial plan that included handling a new mortgage, payments for a new SUV, and the needs of two dependent sons.
My journey of recovery started with finding a new job. I wasn’t as relaxed or confident as I was before and this new job was one of several as I searched for my rhythm.
A significant crossroad a few years later was in encountering one of my first bosses. We talked and he locked eyes with me and told me that I will NEVER know why I lost my job. This advice allowed me to stop this constant inward search on where I messed-up. In others words, my lay-off wasn’t my fault.
Five years from that job loss and with a new employer, I knew I was almost back when I began to collaborate with the staff from where I had been cut. Further steps forward came when physician orders from that earlier employer included my name as the preferred care provider.
While fighting for my professional life, time and my wife’s support were the other variables that helped me along in this journey. She shouldered the financial stress with extending her hours with her employer and finding opportunities to simplify our life at home. Working with someone with the same level of commitment and who still believed in me, helped me prioritize my activities and helped me heal.
Am I done with this journey? Perhaps, but feelings of that experience have never left me.