With yesterday’s layoff at Gusto, I was inevitably thinking about my own history with #layoffs. For my jobs as an adult, I’ve only left by something OTHER than being laid off twice. Here’s the history:
- AOL: I survived more rounds of layoffs than I can remember (it felt like we did them once a quarter for awhile), and left on my own after 13 years.
- Music Intelligence Solutions: I ended up having to lay everyone off when we ran out of money, and even laid myself off.
- Rails Machine: I was laid off (which I think was just in lieu of firing me) because… reasons. I’d be happy to discuss them over a beverage sometime.
- Planted: COVID crushed the recruiting business and PPP wouldn’t cover all of us. I was effectively laid off, but mostly because I was both expensive and was able to find a new job.
- Outvote/Impactive: I left on my own.
Being laid off isn’t a black mark on your job history. If you’re in tech long enough, YOU WILL GET LAID OFF. It’s the consequence of working in an industry that’s pretty unstable, or for early stage startups.
It’s heartbreaking to go through them, on all sides. It’s obviously worst for those who’ve lost their jobs, but the people who stay get to deal with a flurry of emotions and questions – a lot of which management legally can’t answer, which makes it all even more frustrating.
All of those feelings are completely normal, and justified… but most of the questions aren’t going to get answered in any way that will satisfy you.
Your leadership team will NEVER be able to PROMISE that there won’t be more layoffs, EVEN IF THEY’RE BEING PLANNED. No one will ever tell you a layoff is coming. No one will ever tell you why people were laid off.
Layoffs are almost always followed by people choosing to leave because they’ve lost faith in their employer. That’s normal, and should be expected.
My friend Cindy Li always said, “work won’t love you back,” and she’s right. We’re all “resources” for our employers and the company is not your family.
A long time ago, I made a conscious decision for how I would work:
- I will treat everyone with loving kindness, and work where I love the people, the work, and I will love my coworkers as long as it’s possible to work with them. People leave, but they’re not dead.
- Change is constant. I will work to be comfortable with ambiguity and help create order from it.
- At the end of the day, there are three choices when confronted with any change: Accept it. Fight it. Quit. That’s it. If you’re between one of those three options, you’ll be miserable.
That was a lot. The last piece of advice I’ll give is… if you just survived a layoff, don’t get fired.