My Trip to the Beach

Credit: Stephane Antoine

“I’m removing you from your core role.”

These seven words slowly absorbed into the grey matter between my ears and I felt the world go still around me.  I hadn’t expected this. The appointment in my calendar was titled “Check In” and it entirely surprised me when I saw the face of HR on the video screen when I logged in to the video conference. My team lead logged in late and didn’t turn on the video as she explained the reasons why I was being removed from my role, leaving me without a job. I had two weeks to find a new one.  I went in absolute shock.

HR suggested I take the day since it was very clear that I was in no capacity to have a productive conversation. I left my desk and wandered aimlessly, the fear taking hold of my thoughts.

What an unsettling feeling. I had nothing to do.

I took a few hours to let it settle in and while I did that, I reflected on what I wanted.

Do I want to stay with this company?

Do I feel like I can still provide value?

Do I believe that I can help?

Am I ready to go?

The truth is, I have a high need for security and a low risk profile. I have a family, a couple of mortgages and my husband had recently left the company to pursue his own endeavors. As such, job security was extremely important to me.

On top of that, I could feel a shift in the world at the company I had spent the last nine years at and I was extremely curious about what would happen next. We were evolving, transforming, and I was still wanting to be a part of it.

So I knew what I wanted, I wanted to find a new role.

I experienced a few moments of intense anger, as I rolled through the stages of grief. There will always be a better way to handle such a sensitive event and I could name at least eight things that could have been done better.

But I caught myself getting too far down that rabbit hole and reminded myself that I had actually been looking for a new role for the last three or four months. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in the changing accountabilities of the role I was in and was looking for a new challenge. I had already started to apply for other positions just trying to shake things up a bit.

I sat with my situation for a few hours and let the thoughts swirl around, just watching as an observer. There’s anger, there’s fear, there’s sadness. And then… there’s excitement… what? Excitement?

One thing I had from my years at iQmetrix was a belief that the company really does try to do the right thing. The other thing that I had from my years at iQmetrix was I’d been through this before.

It was a strange calm that came over me as I got excited about being forced to find a new opportunity. I had no safety net, I had no back up plan, but I knew that there was a process and a belief that all individuals should be in a role where they can perform at their fullest potential, and I hadn’t been in that role for some time. This could only end up good for me – either I find a better fitting role at iQmetrix, or I am forced to find a new role out of iQmetrix, either way, I truly believed and felt that our People and Culture team had my back and would help me through it.

So on to the job hunt.

I had so many ideas of how I could provide value. I wrote up a couple of Roles and sent them off to the team leads that had authority over the domain. There were a few that had positive reaction. I sent emails and messages to anyone that I wanted to work with, letting them know that I was excited about looking for new areas to deliver in. I thought that the more people that knew that I was looking, the more likely that someone might spot an opportunity and let me know about it.

I was right.

After the better part of two weeks, I started having people reach out to me to suggest opportunities. In the meantime, an opportunity presented itself that more closely aligned with the skills I’d grown in to after nine years at the company and I was getting excited at the idea of how that might turn out.

February 25th, 2019 I woke up beached on the Island of Limbo, but I never once felt alone there. I leaned on our People and Culture team and made sure that they felt my dedication to stepping up to deliver. Fuelled by fear, anxiety and excitement, I held on to this belief in the back of my mind that it was in their best interests to keep me around. I had read the case studies on the costs and risks of having to replace employees and I figured that I had a shot at finding a place.

I did.

And now that I’ve been through it there are a few things I hope starts to change in our way of thinking.

I hope that one day it will be common for iQers to be on the beach, with the notion that they are just looking for the next ship to come in and when it does, they will light up again and contribute even more fully than before. When it becomes more normal, people will remove themselves from roles they know they aren’t performing in or feeling fulfilled and they’ll find a new role.

But right now, it’s still scary. We are used to always having a core role, a job. It’s such a part of our identity.

But as we evolve as a company, with more self-management skills and a higher focus on learning, it’s not realistic to think that our people won’t evolve too. And with that evolution means they’ll find that they’ve outgrown their roles or that their roles have changed to not work for them. And when being on the beach really does feel like an opportunity to get on a new ship, we’ll know we’ve evolved even further.

We change. Jobs change, but our people are what make us great. We are invested in keeping our good people and finding them roles that they can feel successful in. And in the unlikely event that there isn’t a role, we believe in helping our people move forward.

So if you find yourself on the beach, pull out a journal, take some time to reflect on where you are at and what you want your future to be. Check your ego and put on your service hat and reach out to teams that you can serve.

My experience on the beach has shown me that this is company that catches you when you fall and will help you find your next adventure, if you are willing to explore.