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Author Bio: Ruth Luban is a psychotherapist and consultant in private practice who has spent the last 25 years developing workshops and treatment programs for people facing life transitions.
The group burst into nervous laughter, not sure if Jessica really meant mercy killing, assisted suicide, or just plain murder. But slowly, one by one, the participants nodded in knowing agreement, and the label stuck. Each week someone in the group would ask, "so, who is the next among us to be Kevorked?" Or, in response to the all-too-familiar sob story of a new member, one of the veterans would muse, "Uh-oh, sounds like he needs to be Kevorked."
Frank certainly would agree. Frank, fifty-two years old, was a senior engineer and vice president of technical services for a large conglomerate, his only employer during his twenty-six years in the workforce. Frank was comfortable at his job-so comfortable that he describes himself as having been "asleep at the wheel" when the changes began.
His first brush with downsizing was the elimination of several positions at his company and the relocation of those remaining from Indianapolis to North Carolina. Frank, a lucky survivor of this first purge, agreed to a transfer even though his wife did not want to move. A year later, the company implemented another restructuring and yet another relocation. This time, Frank's wife refused to move. Frank, fearful of losing his job and benefits, commuted to Chicago while his family remained in North Carolina.
The final downsizing was the most heartbreaking. Frank and several other engineers were called to a meeting. Those being retained were led to one room. Those being downsized, which included Frank, were taken to another room and told they had ten minutes to clean out their desks and leave the premises. When one worker protested that he carpooled to work and had no way home, the meeting facilitator said someone would take the carpoolers home. Frank says he will never forget feeling like a criminal as he hurriedly threw his belongings in a box and left the company forever.
Looking back, Frank realizes there were many signs that further changes would follow that first reorganization. With each move, corporate managers were offered severance packages to leave "voluntarily " Rumors spread that threats of involuntary removal accompanied those "offers." Frank had stayed because he had invested so much time in the company and would soon be eligible for a healthy retirement pension. In the end, he was dumped, with no pension, a year short of earning his retirement benefits.
Frank is a victim of the new workplace reality: corporations would„,he says, "sooner choose the young guys fresh out with their MBAs, willing to be 'transferred every year if necessary, than honor the years of blood, sweat, and tears put in by people like [me]." He identifies with the realities of refugees-people who are forced to leave their homeland because of persecution, repression, or rejection. Left with little choice or control, they must quickly adjust to new terrain, new language, and new customs.
Stages of Loss and Recovery
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, in her now-classic book On Death and Dying, identified five stages of recovery that follow the death of a loved one. Her work was groundbreaking, not only for its attention to the then taboo subject of death and dying, but also for its suggestion that healing from loss takes time and includes definable stages. While certain primitive cultures compassionately allow a year of recovery time after a profound loss, we Westerners are given only a day or two off from work or school when someone close to us dies. Then we're expected back at our desks, and back to "normal." In fact, humans require far longer periods of recovery to return to optimal levels of physical, mental, and emotional functioning. Kiibler-Ross suggested that we recover from profound loss only after passing through five stages: denial, bargaining, depression, anger, and, finally, acceptance.
William Bridges also writes about loss and has examined the process in many contexts, including that of career loss. In his seminal book, Transitions: Making the Most of Personal Change, written in the wake of his own career shift from college professor to gentleman farmer, Bridges explains that change occurs externally as an event, a moment in time. But its impact occurs internally and takes longer to process because of the shock and grief involved. He calls this process transition. In Bridges's transition paradigm, we experience, knowingly or not, three stages after a loss before we are truly ready to begin anew: the Ending, of the old way of doing and being; the Neutral Zone, a time of being "stuck in neutral, unable to go forward or backward"; and the New Beginning, when a new pattern of doing or being takes hold. Each stage is a process that takes time to complete and varies with each individual...
|Introduction: How I Became a Corporate Refugee||xiii|
|1||Downsizing: The New "Normal"||1|
|2||Stage I: On Your Turf ... Or On the Brink?||13|
|Pit Stop: En Route to Letting Go: The Job Search||48|
|3||Stage II: Letting Go (of the Old Reality)||61|
|4||Stage III: In the Wilderness||113|
|5||Stage IV: Seeing the Beacon||169|
|Pit Stop: En Route to the New Land: Overcoming Roadblocks||205|
|6||Stage V: In the New Land: The New Reality||215|
|Conclusion: An Amazing Comeback Story--to Mirror Your Own||239|
Posted February 10, 2003