Dealing with Layoffs, 2

January 19, 2009

I can still remember the date clearly. It was on the first week of July 1997 when I assembled all of my key officers in the company. I ordered food and I wanted to make the meeting as cordial, relaxed and as friendly as possible. There was a reason for that. I was going to give them good news. Yes. It gave me pleasure knowing that what I was about to say will bring cheers and joy to the people hearing it.

I remember dramatically looking at each person in the room. Fact is I remembered my speech. “Ladies and gentlemen, 5 months.” Yes. That’s how I started my speech. Always a sucker for the dramatic. “5 more months is all I am asking for. I don’t want you to do anything different, just continue doing what you’ve been doing this year and I can assure you that 1997 will be our banner year. We may even go home this Christmas with some big fat checks in terms of bonuses.” I can still see those smiles on their faces. Some tried to hide it, others were more expressive, but every single face in the room was filled with joy. There were cheers and there was a little celebration as I showed them the figures. And then I left for Vegas. Attended a convention. On the 11th of July the dollar rose sharply against the Peso. And from that time on the Peso never regained.

On September I convened a meeting. There was no food, no snacks this time. Every face was somber. Every eye wide with apprehension and worry. “Ladies and gentlemen, I’m sorry to tell you that I have absolutely no idea whether this company will have to close or whether it can manage to stay open next year. Cash flow is now our problem. We have a crisis and I need your cooperation and understanding.”

Funny how things can change from good to worse in so short a time. And all these took place within a few weeks. Isn’t this the same situation we are going through these days?

Change happens and it can happen fast – very fast.

No one can ever be prepared for what is taking place today. Suddenly the top Billionaires in the world have lost billions and in fact one of them have gone from billions to zero net worth! Economic meltdown. Credit Crunch. Crisis here and crisis there… so what is a crisis anyway?

I define a crisis as something unexpected that comes in between me and my goals. That something was never there in our strategic planning equation. That something will force me to get out of my regular routine and do things differently. In other words, a crisis is a disruption and life disruptions happen all the time.

Crisis therefore is a way of life. It’s an inevitable part of our daily agenda. And once we understand the word from this angle then we put ourselves in the right frame of mind in dealing with disruptions that come along the way.

Here are some examples of crisis situations. Disruptions in life.

Tony, Johnny and Ramon were at a convention together & were sharing a large suite on the top of a 75-story skyscraper. After a long day of meetings, they were shocked to hear that the elevators in their hotel were broken & they would have to climb 75 flights of stairs to get to their room. Tony said to Johnny and Ramon, “Let’s break the monotony of this unpleasant task by concentrating on something interesting. I’ll tell jokes for 25 flights, Johnny can sing songs for the next 25 flights and Ramon can tell sad stories for the rest of the way.”

At the 26th floor, Tony stopped telling jokes & Johnny began to sing. At the 51st floor Johnny stopped singing & Ramon began to tell sad stories.
“I will tell my saddest story first,” he said. “I left the room key in the car!” Now that’s a crisis.

I don’t mean to be insensitive. With such a serious subject matter as dealing with layoffs, some times funny stories become untimely. But my intention is to make things light for things are as heavy as it is already. There’s absolutely no sense in making your day heavier.

On the nex post, we’ll deal with the 4 agents of change as we continue this series. But for whatever its worth, don’t take life too hard, no one gets out of it alive anyway. Life is still a gift from the Author of Life and once we connect ourselves to Him, then He’ll show us the way to live it to the full.

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