Some of you will have seen a few of my tweets about the fact that I have been unsure about whether I was going to be made redundant during the current round of NHS organisational changes. I heard verbally this week that, at least for the moment, this is not the case, although there are still changes to be made and like any health organisation I’m sure we will continue to be under review – but for now I at least will continue to have a job.
This blog is my reflections my feelings about this process and my learning.
I actually consider myself to be a very lucky person. I have worked since I was 16 – I have been in continuous employment and have mostly enjoyed what I do. I come from a family with a strong work ethic; working is a core part of me and my life. I love my job as a nurse where my career has taken me into many interesting roles; I have been prepared to take risks and achieved lots of different things along the way as well as having a great deal of fun and meeting fantastic people. I guess I have what might be called a portfolio career these days!
There is a downside to this attitude towards my work. It means that I have an emotional investment in what I do; this driven by my attitude towards work in general but also my feelings about the public sector and the vocation of nursing. If I had no emotional investment perhaps what I am going to say next wouldn’t have happened.
When we learnt that our jobs may be redundant I had very mixed views – part of me (probably the ‘head’ part) saw the possibility as a ‘game changer’, something that would force me into making some different choices and as a result open some doors. There was, though, an underlying fear; what if I couldn’t get an alternative income that would support my family? Another fear – if I wasn’t Anne at work in a job of nursing who was I?
I am sure I am not the first or last person to have these fears and anxieties but it was these nagging fears had an unexpected impact. I have found over the last few months of uncertainty I have felt less focussed and less connected with my work.
I am no HR expert but my investigation into my thoughts and feelings has led me to read a few things online that talk about something called ‘Survivor Syndrome’http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/pdflibrary/mp28.pdf. It’s a relatively old theory but to some extent seems to drive the way organisations should deal with situations of ‘down-sizing’ including recommendations such as ‘over communicating’ at times of change.
Survivor Syndrome affects those people in organisations who do not lose their jobs and it affects their psychological relationship with their work. They may become driven by guilt or further fear and anxiety about their future as well as having a negative effect on their personal social networks. I know that the threat of not having a job has affected me. I have been less engaged with both my work but more importantly I have probably been a poorer leader; I feel like I have been much too inwardly focussed. This blog from the Harvard Business Review ‘Three Ways Leaders Make Emotional connections’ http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/10/three_ways_leaders_make_an_emo.html explains how I might have been failing especially by not recognising that the feelings I thought I have been internalising are actually out on public display. I suspect they have been as I have been described often as an ‘open book’ which is not always a strength!
So what is the personal learning in this for me?
• At times of change I need to remember that my feelings may affect others around me
• I need to stay fit and well with a good life balance to retain emotional resilience when I’m under pressure
• I am emotionally connected to my work in a way I hadn’t thought of before and I need to remember what this means as it is both as a strength and a weakness
• If I’m feeling like this, others are too – what can I do to help them?
All comments are welcome!
‘Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.’