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Did you worry about those left behind (long)?
Old 06-24-2009, 10:31 PM   #1
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Did you worry about those left behind (long)?

Wednesday, July 8th, is my last day at my current employer. I have been there since early November 2004. The business has lost about 10% of it's revenue over the last 2 years. The day I learned our major customer was yanking another product we assemble, I went to our VP of HR (he is our HR dept) and told him I didn't want anyone to be laid off before me (virtually all of them come from the local community and I don't) so I volunteered to be the first. This was in February or March and we agreed I would be laid off in July. The company is acquiring new customers and additional work but the new products do not replace the revenue and profits of the work we are losing. Same amount of work for the managers to service the new customers but less revenue.

My responsibilities will be distributed among three other managers (1 women replaced by three men ) and others below them will be given new responsibilites to backfill for them. Several promotions came out of it which was great. With two weeks left, I had been hoping to be sitting around with nothing to do which meant things were going to be "okay" when I left. This has not been the case as I have remained pretty busy.

Since I have been there, I have been diligent about ensuring the hourly associates have what they need to get their jobs done. We have a loyal, highly trained, experienced, hard working workforce. For example, when they bring me a requisition for supplies, I enter it immediately so the buyer can get it on order. These folks are the ones who make the products that generate the revenue that pays my salary so I make sure they have what they need when they need it. I always make time to answer their questions right now so they can be as productive as possible. I've tried hard to give them the training and the tools to make them self-sufficient but there are times they need help to get their job done. I'm concerned they will not get the attention and priority they deserve from my replacements because the managers will be even busier than they are now.

I feel guilty leaving the folks I have lead and supported over the last 4.5 years (about 100) and I worry how they will be supported when I am gone. I'm sure everything will work out just fine but there will be more bumps in the road with one less person there to help and my responsibilities being distributed among several managers. Has anyone else experienced this when leaving a job?
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:29 AM   #2
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You sound like a conscientious and caring person that's for sure. But, since I'm another female boss in the past, I felt I should probably respond to this.
In a word, no, I haven't worried about the employees when leaving or even when they were let go or left on their own. Why? Because I always felt they were competent enough to land on their feet or I wouldn't have hired them in the first place. I hired them as I trusted their judgment and ability to think on their feet, so this good judgment should carry them over always in their life.
So far, a few have gone on to superb accomplishments, a few who didn't do right by the company have put themselves in bad positions (karma?) and the rest are working and happy it seems. Seems normal to me.

***I would like to ask WHY you would ask to be let go first? I doubt if many men would do the same thing in business.
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:24 PM   #3
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I'm more worried about the hourly associates who are staying who may not have the support they need to do their jobs efficiently. They will become frustrated and unhappy and much less efficient. I can't do anything for the ones who are laid off. It's going to be very tough for them. Our folks are very hard workers but the level of education is low and their skills are pretty specific to our plant. They can learn but it's hard to get hired when you don't already have the specific skill an employer is looking for.
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Old 06-25-2009, 01:38 PM   #4
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Been there, done that. This too shall pass.

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Old 06-25-2009, 02:59 PM   #5
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Only until I made it to my car form the building.

Once through the gate, the place and most people in it became history. There was nothing I could do for these who worked for me once out the door.
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Old 06-25-2009, 03:45 PM   #6
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Not really. But I was used to moving around within the organization; so I already had experienced leaving teams behind. The place had been there for going on two centuries, and I knew people and business would keep on going just fine without me.
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Old 06-25-2009, 05:54 PM   #7
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Old 06-25-2009, 05:58 PM   #8
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Look at the hole you leave behind when you remove your finger from a glass filled with water.
Thats how I felt in my career. Guess that doesn't say much about me. But anywhoo!
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Old 06-25-2009, 06:15 PM   #9
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I think it's natural to feel this way, Buckeye. But someone I once knew, when I worked somewhere else, once told me: "Nobody is indispensible." She went on to explain that a good organization can absorb the loss of any one person, and that if it can't, it had problems to begin with.

So, while remembering that I am trying to make the impact as small as possible, when I retire in November. I have already completed the official transfer of some of my responsibilities to others. I have talked with my supervisor and I know that my tasks will be divided up among others, and who will get what. I have written an informal training manual for my successor in one of my more complex roles. I will start that training in July.

I have been reducing my paper and electronic files and emails to just those that might be important to someone. The more that I do this, and essentially dismantle my job in the process, the more I realize that really very little will be of any use to anyone. They will take on my tasks as their own, and do things their way. This is the way it should be, and anyway this is what is going to happen!

When the time comes, I think it will all work out. Nobody is indispensible.
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:13 PM   #10
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I took an early retirement to save someone else's job.

I really didn't give a hoot.
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Old 06-25-2009, 08:39 PM   #11
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I had the privilege of making a difference at this company due to its size (family-owned, 250 employees) and the flatness of the organization. You had to make a difference or you would be out of there because there was nowhere for a slug to hide. I am not indispensable but I think my attitude towards the hourly workforce and their value to the success of the company will be missed. I was honest and fair with and gave them what they needed (and sometimes what they wanted). In return, they performed at a very high level which was good for all of us.
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:47 PM   #12
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I had the privilege of making a difference at this company due to its size (family-owned, 250 employees) and the flatness of the organization. You had to make a difference or you would be out of there because there was nowhere for a slug to hide. I personally am not indispensable but I think my attitude towards the hourly workforce and their value to the success of the company will be missed. I was honest and fair with and gave them what they needed (and sometimes what they wanted). In return, they performed at a very high level which was good for all of us.
I've been relieved dozens of times. Much to my shock and amazement, in spite of my departure the Navy has not screeched to a halt in its tracks and national security has not imploded of its own gaping vulnerabilites. In fact more than two years after I'd left my old commands, the corporate memory was usually "Nords who?"

If you're training your reliefs correctly then no one should even notice when you're gone. And if anything goes wrong when you've left then you can take solace from the knowledge that you've done your best to avoid those problems.

You've already done more than your share by taking a layoff for the team. If you're feeling like you're indispensable then you're going to have to figure out how to make yourself replaceable-- and you're gonna have to do it before the layoff starts. Luckily no one is indispensable and everyone can eventually be replaced.

No need for survivor retiree guilt. It's not as if you're going to be able to supplement anyone else's unemployment benefits or let them use a spare bedroom for a few months.
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Old 06-25-2009, 09:55 PM   #13
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Look at the hole you leave behind when you remove your finger from a glass filled with water.
Hey, 1.5 years after I was run out of town "early retired", my ex-employer gave me a nice grill, and a personal letter from the CEO, thanking me for my contribution.

I even got a company pin!

I must've really been somebody...

Not...
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:01 PM   #14
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I feel guilty leaving the folks I have lead and supported over the last 4.5 years (about 100) and I worry how they will be supported when I am gone. I'm sure everything will work out just fine but there will be more bumps in the road with one less person there to help and my responsibilities being distributed among several managers. Has anyone else experienced this when leaving a job?
I have changed jobs several times including within the same company both with promotions and I usually left behind a team with many people I really liked and who liked me both as a friend and a manager. I have also let it be known to my managers and HR that I want to be first in line for early retirement if they start laying folks off.

It is natural for you to feel for the folks you are leaving behind but they, and the company, will get along without you just fine.
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Old 06-26-2009, 09:38 AM   #15
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I worked for a large company in the early days we socialized together and acted as a family. Then the new competitive business models started to emerge. Between moving, changing assignments and layoffs over the years seems everyone built up an immunity to seeing people leave. After a while there were no more going away parties and people were there one day and gone the next. All the gaps got filled or just went away. A job position critical one day became dispensable the next. I tried to keep in touch with the poor souls still working, and they all still talk about the same super critical work related problems and political issues that were conversational items two years ago. Sounds like nothing has changed back there, and my life has moved on. IMO you will get over leaving, most likely sooner than later.
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Old 06-29-2009, 01:36 PM   #16
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I had the privilege of making a difference at this company due to its size (family-owned, 250 employees) and the flatness of the organization. You had to make a difference or you would be out of there because there was nowhere for a slug to hide. I am not indispensable but I think my attitude towards the hourly workforce and their value to the success of the company will be missed. I was honest and fair with and gave them what they needed (and sometimes what they wanted). In return, they performed at a very high level which was good for all of us.
It sounds to me that you have a highly developed empathy instinct and desire to support the underdog which flows from an unusually sane and grounded persona.

You somehow managed to turn your job into a humanitarian mission, which perhaps you fell into organically, or perhaps you are a bit religious and took the gospel words to heart, which is that bosses must become servants to their employees.

You may need to find another flock of some description to watch over in order to feel comfortable in your skin. I don't think this is the sort of thing you can just turn off.
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Old 06-29-2009, 07:50 PM   #17
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Kroeran - Yes, I do believe in the concept of leaders as servants. This is the first time I've really been able to put it into practice on a large scale and it worked out very well for me, the associates and the company. It doesn't come from a religious background (as I have none) but I suppose it does stem from a belief in a higher power.

You really make me think about what kind of situation I need to search out for my next adventure. Thank you for your comments.

I see you are also heading to FL to get some sunshine and escape the cold!
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Old 06-30-2009, 05:22 AM   #18
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maybe you could start a small cleaning company with a focus on helping illegal immigrant women or single mothers get established financially

or a landscaping company that only hires ex-cons, that incorporates life skill development and things like nutritional counselling

or a call centre that only hires HIV positives

that sort of thing - you might actually get a little bit rich along the way!

of course, only make small bets and plan on failing the first three attempts
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Old 06-30-2009, 06:26 AM   #19
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Has anyone else experienced this when leaving a job?
No, even though I retired with almost 30 years with the same company.

A job is just that - a job.
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Old 06-30-2009, 06:39 AM   #20
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I was hoping to be on my way out about now, but the markets have not cooperated as well as I would have hoped (understatement of the year), my boss asked me to stay, and for the reason that I was not satisfied that the organization I lead could survive the pressures from above. 2-3 years ago, if I had left, the company probably would have imploded had we been in the current environment back then. I have since brought in, and trained, a really great team of people who would probably manage fine in our market. I am solidly convinced of that. The one thing that they would not survive is the turmoil above.

I report to the global CEO, and we have had 5 or 6 of them in the past 10 years. Each one wants to leave his mark on the business, and usually that means some form of global standardization. For example, I have had CEOs tell me to completely tear out the infrastructure that we have and build it back up following the US or european model. I refused. We were performing fine, so I did not lose my job. The last CEO we had finally recognized that our model is a really good one, and began having some US and European cities move to our model (mind you, our model will not work everywhere). He was canned in April and we got a new one.

The problem that remains with my team today is that they don't know when and how to appropriately and successfully fend off corporate interference from global HQ folks who are clueless about our market, its culture, and the reasons why we do things the way we do them. Once my guys and gals understand and master this concept, I will no longer be necessary to them, and they will succeed without me. At that point, I can just continue to "oversee things" if corporate likes, or they can do with me otherwise, the price of which has already been negotiated (part of agreeing to stay as mentioned earlier).

Bottom line is that together, my team and I have built a great business over the past 10 years and I don't want to see that work, and the livelyhoods of my people, destroyed due to meddling. Once I am certain that base is covered, I will no longer have any worries aboout leaving them behind.

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