I read a great article in Fast Company last week. It was a profile of Patty McCord, the founding HR Director at Netflix. I am sure she saw more change there than most of us see in a lifetime.
What struck me was her view on downsizing. She recalled talking to someone who had just been laid off and the person was crying.
Her message was simple and direct. You were an important part of a really big stage in our growth. You have fantastic skills but we just don’t need those particular skills in the next phase of the company.
How elegant and constructive is that? You have great skills but we don’t need them right now. It’s not a damning of your personality or a criticism of your work habits.
The tricky bit is that you might not know about the next phase and why you don’t fit in.
When I was laid off, I had no idea that the President was about to change the whole business model. Neither did anyone else. So it was pretty hard to understand why I had to leave.
It felt like the worst break up ever.
But over time, I saw the new plans unfold and came to understand why my skills were no longer needed.
This allowed me to keep in touch with former colleagues and managers without so much resentment. Which is good because after 15 years, some of them are still there and we are still in touch.
I know it’s hard to be positive when you are lying in bed in the dark in the middle of the night but try to keep this in mind during the day, especially in interviews and networking conversations. It will serve you well.