Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Story 10: Adapting to the New Normal

By: Model Employee

My soon to be former employer is a relatively small college. Last week was my annual review. I generally get very good reviews. I'm a web designer/developer and do my job well. I seldom take days off and put in quite a bit of time off the clock. All of my training I do is on my own time. They definitely get their moneys worth. This review was the best I've had in my over 10 years of employment with the institution. According to the review I'm a model employee with very few slight negatives. During the review I learned that the website would probably be outsourced this summer. It took some digging to learn this but it didn't take long to realize this had been in the planning stages for some time and I had been completely in the dark. My boss tried to explain I wasn't being let go and that he didn't want to lose me which directly contradicted the fact that my job was being outsourced. So I asked, if this is true then exactly what is it that I'm going to do? Sit in an office with nothing to do and sponge off the taxpayers? Not for me. There was no clear answer to this. It was evident that I really wasn't supposed to have connected the dots so quickly. They of course can't let me go right now because at this moment in time they need me.

There is a silver lining. Over the past several years I have done freelance projects with several companies in the area. I have never lost a client (knock wood) and most of my clients have referred me to their friends and business associates. I've built a fairly large network of contacts and references. Friday I took a vacation day so I could meet with two prospective clients about problems they had to solve. Both meetings went extremely well and it hit home that I enjoyed the diversity of different employers. There are many that need my skills and knowledge however they probably can't afford to hire someone full time. I don't really need health insurance as my wife works in the health care industry and has excellent benefits. Retirement is an issue, I'll have to start taking care of that myself. When I broke the news to my wife and kids it went pretty well. I explained my plan B (plan A being finding another full time employer). I explained the one thing that bugged me was that I have accumulated quite a bit of vacation time over the years. It was then that my wife reminded me that most of my vacation days were spent working so how could plan B be any worse in that respect?

It's a scary prospect change, but you have to keep in mind the scary thing is the transition and adapting to the new normal.

When I return to work tomorrow it's going to be strange. I don't think I was supposed to know that my demise was coming soon. In fact I know I wasn't, it just slipped out. I'm not sure how to behave except not to plan any projects. I am pretty sure some of my coworkers were aware of this before me so that is going to make things awkward. Do I tell my assistant because her fate will undoubtedly be the same as mine? And what about motivation? I've always been highly motivated however now I've adapted to the reality and my motivation is focused on what I'm going to do next. Do I owe it to my employer to stick around long enough to keep the boat afloat until someone else takes over? Or have the rules changed?

One thing for sure, I'm fortunate to have a backup plan in place before the pink slip arrives. I'm past the panic stage and have time to refine my plan, sell the house and rent for awhile, we've talked about selling the house before and getting something smaller. So in a way this is all liberating even though it's going to suck for awhile.

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