Episode 144: Redundancy: how to bounce back and come out fighting when you lose your job – with Tina Neve of Human Decisions

Redundancy can be one of the scariest parts of your professional life, but it also has the potential to be a positive experience that you can come out of stronger than before.

Career coach and counsellor Tina Neve explains the legal framework around redundancies in the UK, the rights you have as an employee and how to communicate during redundancy negotiations to get the best exit package possible.

She talks about common traps you should avoid when going through redundancy, how you can turn redundancy into a positive part of your career and how to respond to employers asking why you were made redundant.

Today’s guest

Tina Neve of Human Decisions

Website: Human Decisions

Instagram: Human Decisions UK

Twitter: Tina Neve

Facebook: Human Decisions UK

LinkedIn: Tina Neve

YouTube: Tina Neve

Tina is a qualified counsellor and personal growth career coach, enabling individuals to move forward in ways they cannot imagine.

She moved into coaching following 30 years of working in human resources and executive search.  During this time she supported hundreds of individuals at points of transition in their careers and realised it was rarely the surface level “what’s going on” that was the real issue, but it was the “what’s really going on” that caused problems. This is where feelings and emotions have a massive part to play and the stories that we tell ourselves about our careers and our abilities shape our reality.

Her whole-person approach supports individuals to overcome psychological blocks, rebalance their minds, reframe their internal narratives and make long-lasting changes to own and believe in their uniqueness.

What you’ll learn in this episode

  • [2:24] How counselling can complement coaching.
  • [7:34] The rights you have in the UK if you’re being made redundant.
  • [8:29] How redundancy differs from other forms of dismissal.
  • [10:24] Traps you should avoid when going through a redundancy process.
  • [12:40] The value of keeping documentation of redundancy procedures.
  • [15:08] How to approach alternative employment your employer offers you as a result of redundancy.
  • [17:19] What compromise agreements are and how they work.
  • [18:19] How to know if you can leverage your redundancy payout.
  • [23:18] The benefits of taking legal advice around your redundancy.
  • [25:48] What can be negotiated in a redundancy settlement.
  • [29:40] How to know if you should discuss your redundancy details with colleagues.
  • [33:54] What you should do if you get made redundant.
  • [39:17] How to approach a career change in a time-efficient way.
  • [43:38] How to avoid panicking when looking for a new job.
  • [48:44] How to respond to employers asking why you were made redundant.
  • [52:52] How to get mentorship or coaching without spending lots of money.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Please note that some of these are affiliate links and we may get a small commission in the event that you make a purchase.  This helps us to cover our expenses and is at no additional cost to you.

Episode 144: Redundancy: how to bounce back and come out fighting when you lose your job - with Tina Neve of Human Decisions

Jeremy Cline 0:00
Redundancy, being laid off, is probably one of the scariest things that can happen to you professionally. You'll have questions like, 'How do you get another job? How long are you going to have to live for without being paid?' But it has the potential to be a really positive experience. So, what are your rights? If you're told you're going to be made redundant, what can you do to negotiate a good exit package? And most importantly, how to pick yourself up again and come out even stronger than you were before? That's what we're going to talk about in this week's episode. I'm Jeremy Cline, and this is Change Work Life.

Jeremy Cline 0:52
Hello, and welcome to Change Work Life, the show that it's all about beating the Sunday evening blues and enjoying Mondays again. If you want to know how you can enjoy a more satisfying and fulfilling working life, then you're in the right place. It's fair to say we're living in somewhat uncertain times. The employment market, as we've come out of the COVID pandemic, seems to have been pretty strong for employees, but economically, who knows what the next year or two holds. The unfortunate fact is that you may find yourself in a redundancy situation where you're getting laid off. The question is, how can you make the best of it? What can you do to make a, let's face it, pretty scary situation more positive? How can you make sure you bounce back even stronger than before? That's what we're covering this week, and I'm delighted to welcome this week's guest, Tina Neve, of Human Decisions. Tina spent 30 years working in human resources and executive search, before transitioning into coaching. She's both a trained coach and a counsellor. And she now works with midlife professionals who are seeking a happier, more fulfilling working life. And that's definitely something I can get behind. Tina, welcome to the podcast.

Tina Neve 2:05
Lovely, great to meet you this morning, Jeremy, and looking forward to our discussion this morning.

Jeremy Cline 2:10
So, when I first introduce coaching to clients, I'm always very careful to tell them that it's not counselling. But you do coaching and counselling. So, I'm intrigued as to how the counselling bit fits in and what it adds to your practice.

Tina Neve 2:24
It's a really interesting one. And I'm just finishing an MSC in integrative counselling and coaching. It's fairly new course and I'm in my research year. But the first two years were integrating both of those things. And traditionally, I think, counselling has been seen as looking at the past. Coaching is potentially seen from looking at the present going forward. But actually, as humans, we're a bit more complicated than that, and not quite as binary or as linear as looking at those things in quite a simple way. And the course I was on actually uses a model called Personal Consultancy, which enables you to look at past and existing behaviours, and how you can develop new behaviours going forward, and also work either at surface or depth, depending on the situation with the client. So, whilst I sort of predominantly work within the coaching space, I do actually spend some time looking at perhaps existing behaviours, and perhaps some past events that may have an influence in that individual and how they may move forward.

Jeremy Cline 3:43
And can you tell us a little bit about your transition to how you came to move from HR and executive search into coaching/counselling?

Tina Neve 3:51
Yes, of course, in my last role within executive search, I was a lead for the interim practice, where I worked, I was an executive search. And that was at a time after the crash, 2008, 2009 and onwards. And I spent a lot of my time during that period actually supporting individuals who found themselves interestingly made redundant, because that was a huge period of time when people's CVs were completely thrown upside down after the financial crash, and helping support them. And at that point, I spent a lot of time, I suppose unofficially, career coaching, supporting people at points of transition. I then had my own personal scenario changed significantly, when I lost my mom and my dad within a short period of time, within 18 months of one another. And perhaps where the counselling came in here is that I effectively hit an emotional brick wall when my mom was announced as being terminally ill, and did seek counselling. And after she passed away, I found myself with a blank sheet of paper for the first time in my career, probably, and a space, and I decided that I would like to pull together my knowledge and capability from the recruitment side and the HR side of things into career coaching, and then developed that further, adding the counselling on top. So, that's what brought me to where I am today.

Jeremy Cline 5:22
Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for sharing that. So, let's set up what we're going to talk about today. So, we're broadly going to cover three different areas. So, there's the legal framework and the employees' rights around redundancy. There's the negotiation aspects of it. So, negotiating a redundancy pay-out, any compromise agreement, that kind of thing. And then, thirdly, and probably most importantly, what you do as an individual, how you pick yourself up and move forward from a redundancy situation. I'm conscious that when we talk about the legal framework, we are going to be focusing on the UK, so apologies to my non-UK listeners, but when we move on to the other sections, I'm sure there's going to be some stuff in there that's helpful for you, wherever you are in the world. I better just put in my disclaimer. Yes, we'll be talking about legal framework. Please don't take this as legal advice. Tina isn't a lawyer. Yes, I am a lawyer, but I'm not an employment lawyer, and I'm not your lawyer, so please don't take any of this as legal advice. It's just information, it's not to be relied upon. Do take your own professional advice in your own circumstances. Right. I've got that out of the way, good. I also thought that we could talk to a case study, to make it a little bit more real for everyone. And regular listeners will recognise Tom, who I have used on a couple of occasions before. For these purposes, Tom has been working for the same law firm for the past eight years or so. He has a three-month notice period, which is reasonably common for professionals. And well, he's in a situation where he's been told that he might be made redundant due to economic circumstances. So, first of all, what rights might Tom have, and again, we are talking about in England here, but what rights might Tom have if he's told that he's going to be made redundant?

Tina Neve 7:34
If he's going to be made redundant, first of all, he's been employed for more than two years, so therefore, here within the UK, he is eligible for redundancy. And there are some statutory payments, just at a minimum level, that he could expect from his employer, which depend on your age and how long you've worked for an employer. And for Tom's age group, which is, if you're aged 22 to 40, he's entitled to one week's pay for each full year he worked from the age of 22, and half a week's pay for each full year he worked before that. And there is, with all payments in the UK, up to 30,000 pounds, redundancy pay is tax free.

Jeremy Cline 8:20
And how does redundancy differ from other forms of dismissal or leaving?

Tina Neve 8:28
Yeah, it is a form of dismissal. Redundancy is actually listed, from a legal perspective, as one of the forms of dismissal. But it is caused by your role disappearing effectively. And your role could be disappearing for a number of reasons. And some of the common reasons that have been laid out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development here in the UK is where new technology or systems reduce the need for employees, the need to cut costs, resulting in a reduction in staff numbers, or the businesses closing down altogether or moving. So, they could be seen as fair reasons for redundancy.

Jeremy Cline 9:13
So, in other words, Tom can't really be made redundant unless there is one of these external reasons. They can't just sort of get rid of him because he's underperforming, or they don't like him or something like that.

Tina Neve 9:25
So, a genuine redundancy only arises if it is attributable to the fact that the employer requires fewer employees to carry out work for certain kind, or expects that the requirements for employees has reduced.

Jeremy Cline 9:42
Okay. So, there's been some kind of a meeting at work, Tom and all his colleagues have been put into a room and told that there is going to be a redundancy situation and that some of them are going to be made redundant. What traps should Tom look out for? What should he avoid maybe in the process? So, I'm thinking of things like, you probably shouldn't resign, possibly he shouldn't badmouth his employer, perhaps he shouldn't be posting things on social media, I mean, what sort of stuff would Tom best be avoiding, in order to make the best out of his position?

Tina Neve 10:23
I think jumping to conclusions, and actually falling into a trap of assuming that X, Y, Z is going to happen. Not all employers are good at managing redundancy. So, I think one of the things he should avoid is getting caught up in gossip with other people, if he can, and trying to perhaps keep his own counsel, to a certain extent, at this point. I think it's very easy to get caught having conversations with other people who may feel that they've got an inside track on what's happening, et cetera. So, I think it's be wary of gossip, be wary of other conversations, and actually try and keep focused on the facts of the situation.

Jeremy Cline 11:13
And you mentioned how a lot of employers don't do this very well, what things is it worth Tom looking out for, that employers might not do right, which possibly could give him a bit of leverage?

Tina Neve 11:31
Yeah, I mean, there should be some sort of fair procedure that happens. So, hopefully, his manager hasn't just told them that there's going to be redundancy, but he should ideally seek some information about the reasons and particularly what criteria they're going to use to make people redundant from that point of view.

Jeremy Cline 11:56
So, if Tom is, say, one of three lawyers of a similar level of qualification, and he's told that one of those three is going to be made redundant, then he should presumably then ask, 'Okay, so by what criteria, are you going to make this decision?'

Tina Neve 12:12
And it could be something as simple as last in, first out. Which is sometimes a way of doing it, not always the best way, but it can be. If he knows the criteria, then that can potentially take away some of the worry, because he might not fall into that category. Or he may do.

Jeremy Cline 12:34
And presumably, if he goes into a meeting, is told, 'Sorry, Tom, but we're letting you go', he can ask at that stage what the criteria were and how he measured up against them?

Tina Neve 12:47
Yes. Yeah. It's within his rights to say how they've come to that decision.

Jeremy Cline 12:52
Is it worth him asking for that in writing, if that's possible?

Tina Neve 12:56
Yeah, he can. There should be some sort of procedure, and an employer shouldn't shy away from, if they've done things properly, actually providing some information to him. I think one of the things also that is important is keeping any documentation, or to take any notes of any meetings that happen, as well. So, if you are called into a room, and things are said, the shock at the time can be very much around your thoughts and your feelings and what impact this may have. But from a practical level, I would suggest that anyone that is in that room and has that conversation should actually physically make a note afterwards, who was there and what was said.

Jeremy Cline 13:49
Can Tom request that someone goes into the meeting with him? So, another colleague or someone, he probably doesn't have a union representative if he is a lawyer, because we don't really have much of a union, but yeah, can he request someone to go in?

Tina Neve 14:03
There may be a representative within the organisation that he can use. Yes, he can request that, whether that be agreed to or not, but yeah, it's within his rights to request that someone is in that. He may not want to do it early on, he may want to sort of keep that as an option should the discussions not be as polite and as open as he would have liked.

Jeremy Cline 14:28
Now, one of the things I understand employers have to do is to check whether there might be any positions elsewhere in the organisation, which could be a good fit. So, let's say Tom is offered something which he thinks, 'I don't really fancy that.' Is there a good way of turning that down without it affecting your ability to negotiate your exit or anything like that? So, on the one hand, you had an offer, this was a perfectly good job, but on the other hand, he's kind of thinking, 'I'm probably going to do better elsewhere'.

Tina Neve 15:09
If there is a suitable alternative, your employer must offer it to you, before you're made redundant. It may be a case that more than one person is suitable for the same role, and your employer may even hold interviews for that, but it should offer alternative employment before your role ends. You do not have to take the job if you don't think it's suitable. That can depend on how much you're paid and what the benefits you'll get, for example, that might not be the same, where the job is, whether you'll have to travel further, how similar the role is to your current job, and what terms you're being offered, and the skills and abilities in relation to the role.

Jeremy Cline 15:52
Can you suggest your own alternative? I mean, say you've been thinking about a career change, and there's another department within your organisation which might be pretty unrelated to what you do, but you fancy having a crack at it. Can you suggest that?

Tina Neve 16:09
Yeah. You can do, for sure. Because if you're at a point in your career where a change may actually benefit you, or actually getting experience within an alternative department, from a legal perspective, it might be a slightly different pool of clients that you're working with than who you used to work with. That could be something that could, one, give you some skills and capabilities that you haven't got already, if you are thinking that you may want to move, it may give you a bit more time to actually make the transition on your terms out of the organisation, rather than actually leaving now with redundancy.

Jeremy Cline 16:52
So, let's assume that Tom has explored all these options, and either they don't exist, or his conclusion is, 'No, I think it's probably best that I do leave. Okay, let's see how much I can leave with.' So, there are things called compromise agreements, can you perhaps start by just explaining what they are and what the rationale is behind having them?

Tina Neve 17:19
Yeah, compromise agreement tends to happen when things aren't cut and dried, for whatever reason, and there's a negotiation of some sort, whereby the organisation will pay a fee, a sum of money to an individual as they leave the organisation, and there is perhaps a statement that is agreed between two parties about why the leaving took place, and what can or cannot be said after that agreement has been signed. In a redundancy situation, that may be that you don't share what your pay-out was, possibly, that that is actually kept confidential between you and the employer. So, that may be an additional piece to the final negotiated settlement.

Jeremy Cline 18:13
And in what way might things not be so cut and dried, such that this becomes a possibility?

Tina Neve 18:20
Sometimes redundancies aren't as clear-cut as a true redundancy. And in those situations, employers will often actually offer up really quite generous redundancy terms for employees to actually leave. If there's mass layout, and they want to actually reduce the size of the workforce, then there are times when generous payments will be made, so people can do that. And there are sometimes options, if there is a fine line, whether this is a true redundancy or not, whether the employee may have some leverage to actually increase that payment.

Jeremy Cline 19:02
So, what sorts of things should Tom be looking out for that he might use to see whether he can increase his payment?

Tina Neve 19:10
I think the first thing to do is actually, do your research and do your preparation. What does your current contract say? And that might even be down to what your job title is, it might be where you sit within the organisation, et cetera. There may be in your handbook actually some redundancy framework, the company may even have a pay-out system that is in place, that is there for you to actually look at. So, always do your research first, get all the documentation you can, the facts, the legal situation, and making sure you perhaps got a basis for negotiation.

Jeremy Cline 19:48
I can see there being a temptation to dredge things out of the past. So, maybe a couple of years ago, someone made a comment to Tom which he decided to let go, but in a new light, could possibly be considered discriminatory, maybe. Is that something that Tom might want to think about throwing into the mix?

Tina Neve 20:12
I think you have to be really careful when you go down these paths. If it was something fairly recent, and it was blatant, then that may be a road that you want to go down, because you can't make redundancy decisions from a discriminatory point of view. They have to be fair. So, he may have, if there's something happened in recent times, a sort of path go down as far as that's concerned, as well. But again, the basis of all of this is, one, your contract, your handbook, what the employer says they will do in this situation, as well. There can be situations where the process has been unfair. And that could give some leverage as well to Tom. Lots of organisations do redundancy badly. Quite often, a decision is made at quite senior level as to where costs may need to be saved, or where there's been systems change, and this will mean losing individuals within the organisation. So, it's like a domino effect, to some extent. Someone pushes the domino at a senior level, but actually, it's further down the line that perhaps some managers and leaders have to make these decisions. They may be with people they've worked with for a long time, they feel really uncomfortable, they may not have had the training, et cetera. So, a lot of individuals who actually carry out some of these redundancy processes actually hate doing them, basically. I've worked in HR, it's a very unpleasant thing to do, especially for people that you see every day, knowing perhaps for a period of time that, when some of these people are going to be out of a job, you might have to decide who it is. So, that's when some of these processes can be clumsy, not always done effectively, and the person who's been made redundant suffers in the end, because they're not always dealt with humanely. You know, we're humans, and we're not going to have a job for whatever reason, so that can get lost in the mix, because a manager or a leader just finds this so hard to do.

Jeremy Cline 22:39
And so, that's why note taking and keeping a record of everything that's said in meetings is so important.

Tina Neve 22:46
Yeah, because your manager might fire you off an email that was a bit off paced, and wasn't aligned to the procedures that they should be following. They may have spoken to you a certain way, they may have done a number of things that have made this really unpleasant for you, rather than a compassionate process.

Jeremy Cline 23:08
To what extent is an employer obliged to ensure that the employee is properly advised that everything has been done properly?

Tina Neve 23:17
They have a duty to do things fairly. And actually, in a number of situations, an employer, if it ends in certain dismissals that end up in a tribunal, they can actually fall foul of not doing things in a fair procedural manner. And that will be looked at from a tribunal situation, if someone took it that far.

Jeremy Cline 23:43
Should Tom in these circumstances take his own legal advice?

Tina Neve 23:49
I would say that, depending on the scenario, it won't do any harm. I think taking legal advice can give you a sense of confidence in how you're going to deal with your employer. They might support you with a particular strategy. I think a number of it really depends on how you've been treated by your employer, whether you feel they're being fair. And I think we often get a gut feel as to whether we're being treated fairly or not, but back that up by looking at the data and the facts and the details that you've got. And you may want to go to, although his lawyer himself, he may have someone he knows who is an employment lawyer, who he can speak to in confidence, or actually just actually have a meeting with a lawyer and double check what the scenario is. And I know you've talked about Tom before, he's been there for quite a while, he's potentially going up to a senior position in the organisation, so this could potentially be a significant loss for him, and he may want to actually speak to a lawyer, so that he can navigate this in the best way possible for him and his career.

Jeremy Cline 25:02
And can he ask the employer to pay for his legal advice?

Tina Neve 25:06
Some will, actually, if there is an agreement made, will actually roll that up in the settlement agreement, but that's not always the case.

Jeremy Cline 25:16
Okay. So, if there's a settlement or a compromise agreement, I suppose it's in the interest of the employer that he gets legal advice, so that he can't then turn around and say, 'Oh, you forced this on me, I wasn't aware of my rights', that kind of thing.

Tina Neve 25:29
Exactly. Yeah.

Jeremy Cline 25:32
And in terms of the settlement, what other things, apart from hard cash, might Tom be able to negotiate? So, I'm thinking things like career coaching or outplacement, or that kind of thing.

Tina Neve 25:48
Yeah, he may be able to negotiate outplacement or coaching as part of the package. There are other things that may be part of his employment contract that he might want to extend for longer. For example, considering Tom and his young family, if he's got paid healthcare, he perhaps might want to see if that could be paid for a period of time, perhaps beyond the three months of his notice period, as part of his redundancy. So, there are things like that around benefits, that they may extend as part of a negotiation. And in terms of depending how his package is structured, from a cash point of view, he may want to retain shares, rather than have them cashed, if you've got shares in something, there might be bonuses and commissions, et cetera. They're just hard cash, and they can be sort of made sure that they're included as well in any settlement. But I think the important thing to do is do your homework first, and actually know what your objectives are when you start negotiating, so you've actually got a starting point. So, I want to go into this negotiation, and I want to negotiate X amount of cash, which may come from a number of spots. I want my healthcare to be extended. These are things I think I'm entitled to, so that you have actually got that starting point. And the contract's always your first port of call, as far as this, what you've been contractually entitled to, actually, if this perhaps does look a slightly precarious redundancy situation, and then, you might want to ask for more money, because that might be worth their while and your while for you to come to an agreement and not make this messy. But I think it's also, and we haven't covered this bit, and I know we will, it's actually, however they behave, you try and keep as polite as possible, as you're going through your strategy. Always be clear, always be transparent in what you're asking for, all the way through. And if you start with a sort of place where you want to end up, and a clear with that, so this is where I'm starting, this is what I want to end up with, I'm just going to be polite and persistent and consistent with you all the way through these negotiations, whether you're doing it yourself or whether lawyers are involved, however they behave, you as an individual, try and keep as polite and pragmatic, and communicate clearly at all times. And all the way through the negotiations, you keep gathering information. Emails, letters, make notes of conversations, et cetera, along the way. So, even if they might not be doing things in the clearest way or the most transparent way, you're actually conducting yourself in a polite way all the way through. I know people can get very angry around redundancy situations, it can be really frustrating, et cetera. But if you can, as much as possible, keep as polite as possible, that will help with the negotiations as well.

Jeremy Cline 29:23
I've got one more question I want to ask you about the compromise agreement. And then, of course, we'll move on to sort of where Tom goes from here. You mentioned confidentiality. A previous guest on this podcast, we were talking about negotiating salaries, and I asked about things, either in contracts or in employee handbooks, saying you must not discuss your pay with other colleagues. And her view was that that is unenforceable, there are rules on collective bargaining, it might be in there, but you can't do anything about it. Suppose Tom is one of two people being made redundant, and he is looking at negotiating an additional payment on top of his statutory redundancy rights and all that kind of thing. There may well be a clause about where you've got to keep this agreement confidential. I mean, what happens if Tom does discuss it with the other person? Maybe they're in a similar situation, one of them discovers that the other is getting paid more. Should Tom be mindful of confidentiality clauses, or is it more in his interests that he and his colleague do discuss this?

Tina Neve 30:39
It's a very fine line, because it could inflame the sort of situation between him and his employer. And like you say, some organisations do have a clause in their contract saying that salaries, et cetera, shouldn't be discussed. It would depend on his relationship with that other colleague, I think, to some extent, as well.

Jeremy Cline 31:07
Can you expand on that?

Tina Neve 31:08
Yeah, because I think colleagues, depending on the environment and the culture of the organisation, may have different agendas in these scenarios. And it can, I think, cause issues, if you're sharing information sometimes. Sometimes it can help in these situations. But I think he needs to really decide on how he wants to proceed. I think it can help in some occasions, but I think it very much depends on the culture and the nature of the organisation, and how they're handling the situation. Like your previous guest, I don't think those clauses hold water. But I think it depends on how it would affect the negotiation and Tom himself, actually, perhaps getting caught in machinations of another person's negotiation, as well his own, at a time when you're perhaps emotionally not in a great place. I think that would be a factor in deciding whether to open those conversations or not. I hope that's not too vague.

Jeremy Cline 32:19
No, not at all, that's really helpful, thank you. Let's move on to where Tom goes from here. Now, obviously, everyone is going to be in a different position. Tom might have absolutely loved his job, he thought he was going to be there forever, he was going to get promoted, and he's absolutely crushed to find out that he's being made redundant. On the other hand, Tom might be thinking, 'Okay, I've got an opportunity here. I was not really happy doing what I was doing. There's an opportunity here to do something differently, maybe even change career entirely.' And I remember one previous guest describing his own redundancy situation, where he said he was the only person who walked out of the meeting with a smile on his face. So, there's the what Tom does next. There's also, quite possibly, an element of time pressure that he might be feeling. So, if he does have a young family, mortgage, obligations, he's got to put food on the table and that kind of thing, on the one hand, he might be thinking this is an opportunity to do a complete career pivot, but how long is that going to take? How long am I going to be without an income coming in? And he might have his own savings, obviously, there might be a redundancy pay-out. Help Tom out.

Tina Neve 33:54
I think the first thing is to pause. I think it can be very easy to start taking action immediately. And the first thing a lot of people do is go for a CV and perhaps start taking action. But I think, even if there are time pressures, you just need to stop, pause and rebalance for a short period of time, and think about where you are in your career now, what are all the positives you take from the previous role, and also, I think it's the chance to reorient yourself around what your values are, when it comes to your work, and also identify what your strengths are. And really, one exercise I sometimes do with people actually is something, you know, who are you at your best. Actually think of point in time in your career, not in the last few months when things might have been difficult because you were going to be made redundant, but who are you at your best? What do you bring to your work? And I think it's that period of rebalancing and pausing, before you go straight into action, and actually start taking steps to get your next role. I think you do need to sort of take that pause, to start with.

Jeremy Cline 35:26
And so, what might that result in? What might it look like, this sort of pausing and rebalancing in terms of where Tom might get up to, and then how that informs what he does next?

Tina Neve 35:38
I think it just gives you a bit of balance and clarity around, ideally, what you'd like to do next in your career. And then, you can make some more informed decisions about what you do going forward. Now, if you're in a point where you have got time pressures, your next role may not be the one you really want. It may be a steppingstone. So, don't always look for a complete reinvention of where you want to go in your career. It might be a slightly sideways step. For Tom, it could be working perhaps for a legal firm that has really good work-life balance, because he's got a young family, his wife's at home, et cetera. Especially after COVID, if he's currently in a firm where there's quite a lot of presenteeism, or long hours, et cetera, he might actually go, 'Do you know what? In the short term, with family, et cetera, actually, it would be really great if I've got better work-life balance.' So, he may seek a role where that is important to him, as a steppingstone. It may be a firm that has a client base that is more aligned with his values. If for example, he's quite interested in perhaps anything that's got a societal benefit element to it, he might actually work for a legal firm that actually aligns with that, so that he can then actually do what he does extremely well, but actually do it in a different environment, where there's different benefit to the clients that he's working for. So, he might still be at the same level, he might be in a place that isn't significantly a step up from where he is, but he might actually be in an environment that he enjoys more. And that might be a role he can step into fairly quickly, from a permanent perspective. But there's also, and I'm not sure, I'm not going to say I know for sure what the environment looks like, but there's always an opportunity to take on interim or contract work in the short term, as well, as an option to move forward, and as a steppingstone while you develop a better understanding of what you want to do next. And that can help fill the gap from a time pressure and finance perspective, for somebody who needs to meet the demands of a young growing family.

Jeremy Cline 38:18
Can you give Tom some guidance on, let's say that there's enough to pay the bills for two months, and he's thinking about a complete career change, but he doesn't really know how that might look, and how long it might take, so one of the things, I guess, he's got to be mindful of is where he focuses his time, so if he goes a freelance contracting route, then that might be something that he can walk into, or it might be something that takes a little bit of time in order to build up, or if he's going for other jobs, then there might be a process, so he's got to be thinking about how much time it might take to get a new job, and if it is something completely different, again, there might be a time element, so how can Tom think about things so that, tactically, he uses his time to best effect?

Tina Neve 39:18
Tactically, use in best effect is, I think, working out what that next thing might look like, if it's something completely different, does take time. To actually emerge from a career that you've been doing for a number of years and actually make that transition to something completely different does take a bit of time, and you need time to explore, gather data, work out which of your options of something new, actually, is going to work for you. And if you've only got a few months' money, then you may have to do some of that, perhaps as a sideline, but actually still carry on doing what you're doing already, I think, because chucking all your eggs in one basket of doing something completely different, in a short period of time, when you feel under pressure, may not be the best option for you. So, unless he's got a very clear idea and has developed a clear idea of what that looks like, after being made redundant and having only a short space of time to actually start earning money again, that may not be the best time to do that. If he's got quite a generous pay-out, and there is more time for him to actually make that transition, then that might be something he wants to do. So, I really think it depends on that particular timeline, and the practical pressures of what he needs to do to support his family.

Jeremy Cline 40:59
So, possibly, during this pause and rebalance phase, that might also be a good time to do a bit of maths and figure out what is in the pot and how long they can go on for.

Tina Neve 41:08
Exactly. Exactly. And it's amazing, when you actually look at how you cut your cloth, and what is essential and what's luxury, if we strip down to the essentials, how long would that actually take us, how long does that give me, do we want to live like this, that's a conversation to have from a family perspective. But yes, I think doing the figures is an essential point. Where are we at? If we cut things down to the essentials, how does that sort of help us? Once you've had a bit of a rebalance, and you're feeling that you know what you're good at, what your strengths are, what you bring to an employer, I think the other tactic is then to actually reach out to some executive search firms, if you don't know them already, and just test the market to some extent, let them know that you're available, and create, if you can, some conversations with those individuals, so that they get to know you. A number of roles will not come up or be advertised or that you hear about, so the other thing to do is also connect with people. I think it's really important to start having conversations with people around your availability, people in your network, people that you know, because they may know of opportunities that you don't, and that head-hunters won't know either, or won't get advertised. And so, I think that's important as well, because you might find that someone in your network will go, 'Well, actually, I know someone who needs a bit of work doing', or actually they could use somebody like you, or keep your name in mind if something comes up, and that can lead on to something as well.

Jeremy Cline 43:14
The subject of networking comes up so often on this podcast, and so, this is just another example of how important it is.

Tina Neve 43:21
It is. And I know it's sort of going back a bit and sort of retrospective, but everyone should have a network, and not actually wait until they're in situation to form one.

Jeremy Cline 43:33
Dig the well before you're thirsty.

Tina Neve 43:35
Exactly. Yes.

Jeremy Cline 43:38
What are some of the ways that Tom can avoid blind panic and just thinking like he's got to go for something, anything, whatever it might be. And that might either be at the start, or maybe he's set himself three months and is getting to the end of that, and nothing seems to be going anywhere.

Tina Neve 44:01
Some processes take a while to actually go through. Some executive search processes can take three months. The advantage Tom has, he hasn't got a notice period. So, one of his advantages going into any process is that he can start fairly quickly. So, that does put him at an advantage in those situations. I think it's important to not apply for everything, and make sure that he doesn't apply for things actually beneath his level, because I think sometimes when people get a bit panicky and afraid, they can start applying for all sorts of things, in the hope that something will land. And yes, applying for a new job is a numbers game to some extent, but actually, if you're applying for roles that aren't appropriate, you're wasting time and effort effectively. So, I think the one thing to do is the rebalance, pause and rebalance piece is around identifying, to some extent, these are my skills, these are my capabilities, these are the types of roles that I can do, and hopefully, where can I do them, because there may be legal opportunities, not in legal firms, but in other organisations, in the finance sector, in other sectors, there may be a move for a lawyer to go in-house into an organisation and work within an organisation, rather than a practice. So, there may be a number of areas. If he speaks to some exec search firms, they might be able to advise him on that, if that's something he's thinking of doing. Good ones should be able to give you a sense of what the market's like and what you can think of, et cetera. But try not to apply for everything. And there's nothing more demoralising than applying for a role that you're overqualified for, and actually then not being progressed. Because you can then almost set up this cycle of rejection, to some extent, because you're just too good for the role that you've applied for in some circumstances, so it's actually knowing his worth, knowing the types of roles that he should apply for. And also, I think some people get caught into this scenario, where they feel like they should be applying for work 24 hours a day, and then, they beat themselves up when they're not. And actually, from that perspective, it's actually having sort of quite a plan, as well, a structured plan around where are the jobs likely to come up that I might be applying for. So, they might be job boards, there might be some particular legal exec search firms, it might be looking on LinkedIn, et cetera, there are only X amount of things you can do. So, you need to list what they are, and set yourselves clear targets over the week about what you're going to do this week. You can check LinkedIn every morning, but that's going to take you 10 minutes to check for some jobs that might be there. You can only speak to so many exec search firms per week. You can only look at job boards amount you can network in, try and speak to people, but there's only X amount of things you can do. So, if you actually quite clearly plot the things that you want to achieve during the week, then don't beat yourself up when you're not doing them. Yeah, actually spend time with the family, spend time with your daughter. It's really hard, but you can still enjoy life, some parts of your life, even though the work part isn't going well, because you haven't got a job at the moment. And it's trying to almost appreciate that time that you've got it, because once you get back into work, you won't have it. But I think it really is important that you're quite specific on what actions you can take to get your next role, and don't think you've got to be applying for jobs 24/7, or looking for a role 24/7. It's exhausting.

Jeremy Cline 48:11
I'd like just to touch on interviews. So, say you have been made redundant. The question may come up at interview. And let's turn to the scenario we talked about earlier, where Tom was one of three possible people who might be made redundant, and he was chosen. And it may be that he got a Good in his last appraisal, and the other two got Excellent, so it's not like he's done anything wrong. But should the question come up 'Why you', how do you handle that?

Tina Neve 48:44
I would like to think an employer wouldn't actually ask that question. But it would come up occasionally.

Jeremy Cline 48:48
I can tell you from personal experience that it has.

Tina Neve 48:51
Yeah. And I think you just have to be honest and open, to some extent, and go, 'Look, the scenario was, a number of people were in the department, and I was chosen for redundancy.' And it may be that there wasn't a clear reason why, you may not have been given one. Hopefully, you would have done, but it may have been that someone had X experience that you didn't, and they've kept them. It may be as simple as, the criteria was, I got X in my appraisal, and somebody's got Y. The thing is, you can't get away from the facts. I think the more you try and dress it up, the worse it gets. I think you just have to be quite honest, open and give headlines. I think, one of the pitfalls that people fall into at interview is that, when they're asked those types of questions, they then start throwing in the kitchen sink into the reason why these things happened. Because there are different levels of what happened. Contextually, the organisation needed to save money. There were three people in my department, and two of us had to go, one of us had to go. And the criteria they used were X, Y, Z, and unfortunately, that's why I didn't have my job, because that was the criteria that was used. And leave it as simple as that. Don't make all sorts of assumptions about what they need to know. You give them the headlines. And if you give it on the factual basis, this is the context, this is the number of people they made redundant, and this is the reason out of their sort of criteria that I actually lost my role.

Jeremy Cline 50:34
And it's not an opportunity to just sound off about a former employer. I think it goes back to what you were saying about being polite, professional.

Tina Neve 50:41
Yeah, it is, polite and professional, these are the facts, this is what happened. You give them the complete headlines, and try and keep the emotion out of it when you're talking about it as well. It can be very easy to get caught into actually talking about how you felt about it, et cetera, or bad mouthing your employer, but just keep it really factual. The thing is, you're in an interview because somebody wants to potentially hire you. Yeah, the reason that you're there in front of somebody is they're hoping at the end of it, they might actually hire you. And actually, most interviewers going to an interview are wanting to interview somebody that they can hire. So, just keep it nice and factual, non-emotional, as much as you can. And if you've done your rebalancing stuff, you then draw them into your strengths, your values, how you do things, what you bring to a business, what you bring to the table of a future employer. That's where you want to steer the interview, not give them a lot of information and emotion around why you lost your last role.

Jeremy Cline 51:52
There's going to be a lot of points in the process where Tom may well benefit from having some kind of a professional helping him out, be it outplacement, a coach, and it could be help with the rebalancing, it could be help with interview practice. I mean, maybe he hasn't been for a job interview in so long that he just hasn't had any practice in it. On the one hand, all this stuff might help, it might clarify things. I would say that, wouldn't I have a coach so I know that this sort of thing is really genuinely helpful. On the other hand, he might be thinking, 'Well, I am kind of counting the pennies, I don't really want to spend hundreds of quids on having a coach.' I mean, what are the options out there for Tom? Are there voluntary organisations or sort of low-cost organisations who can help Tom through this sort of process?

Tina Neve 52:52
I think, if we go back to the to the legal and stuff, you've got Citizens Advice and stuff like that, just going back to our first two points. From where he is now, there is quite a lot of stuff, if you look carefully, you can probably pick up quite a lot of stuff off the internet, if you're willing to read and learn and go to things. I think it does benefit talking to somebody. Career coaches come in all shapes and sizes, and all salary, at different price points. So, searching for a career coach, a sort of lower price point may be out there as well for him. There are maybe people in his network, who can almost act as a mentor as well. There may be people he knows, sometimes it can be ex bosses he's worked for in the past, who perhaps left and gone somewhere else. But I think, good career conversations don't have to be professionals, but they have to be people you trust their opinion, and it has to be somebody who will be honest with you, and have your best interests at heart. And if there are people in your network who you think fit those criteria, then it might be worth searching them out and actually having a conversation with them as well as actually any professional help. But I think it's, do you trust them, do you feel that they will give you honest feedback, and do they have knowledge in an area that you think is going to support you.

Jeremy Cline 54:34
And there's a very important point here, that you probably will have loads of people who want to help, loads of people who want to give you advice, but it might not necessarily be the best advice, and you might talk to two different people, and they give you two contradictory pieces of advice, and that just confuses you. So, I think being discerning about who you listen to, in the way, that sounds like a just a brilliant idea.

Tina Neve 55:00
It is, it is. Really be discerning, and unfortunately, a lot of people, you can normally work out people who are going to be supportive, that they will listen to you. You will get some people who, as soon as you open your mouth, will just start spilling out advice. But they've not really listened to you. They've already got a preconceived idea of what you should be doing. But ideally, you want somebody who is going to truly listen to you and not jump in, because if they're jumping in while you're talking, they're not listening. They've already formed an opinion of what they think you should do. Anyone you speak to should be a really good listener and understand where you're coming from. I think that's a really important one. And I think, you've touched on something here, Jeremy, which I think is really important, and that is to ask for help. I think most people do want to help, in most scenarios, if they've got the time to help. But I think a lot of people, professionals particularly at certain levels, just feel that asking for help is a weakness, but it's actually a strength. So, I do think asking for help and not becoming too insular in this scenario, and keeping engaged with people is really important.

Jeremy Cline 56:20
Tina, we've covered an awful lot of stuff in this interview.

Tina Neve 56:23
I know we have.

Jeremy Cline 56:23
I'm conscious that it's gone on a little bit longer than my regular interviews. Is there anything that we haven't covered, any sort of last words of wisdom, any other practical points that you'd just like to mention, before we wrap up?

Tina Neve 56:38
I think the important thing is that your career path is unique to you. So, even though you might have been thrown off course by a redundancy, what you do next is unique to you. So, don't feel that, because you haven't lived up to an expectation that you've done something wrong. Because you haven't. We all have things that throw us off on our journeys, on our careers. So, the next step you take on your path is unique to you.

Jeremy Cline 57:11
Definitely something to go up on the billboard. If someone finds himself in this sort of situation, do you have any book recommendations, tools, blogs, podcasts, anything else that they might want to look at?

Tina Neve 57:26
I've actually got two books. I'm being cheeky here, because you asked for one.

Jeremy Cline 57:32
I've had guests recommend three or four, so two is absolutely fine.

Tina Neve 57:35
One of them is called Working Identity by Herminia Ibarra, Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career. It's a really interesting way of looking at how, at points in our life, we come at point of transition, and managing that transition. And the way she writes is great, and I think there's some good case studies in here, and it's a really good, I think, human view of actually what happens in our working lives, something that could be a good book for somebody to read. And the other one is called Smart Growth by Whitney Johnson, it's called How To Grow Your People to Grow Your Company, so initially, it looks as though it's actually for managers and leaders. But what it actually does, I think, is very useful for an individual, because it looks at how we go through stages of growth in our careers, from the launch point, where we explore and collect data, to where we achieve mastery. And the importance to have varying growth curves in our career, and quite often, redundancy is the point that we hit off a new growth curve. And redundancy is often the point where we do something we wouldn't have done before, because we would have procrastinated. And I've spoke to so many people, where actually redundancy has been a pivot point, and a positive pivot point, in their career, because they wouldn't have made the steps that they did afterwards otherwise.

Jeremy Cline 59:12
Tina, where can people go if they want to find you and get a hold of you?

Tina Neve 59:16
Yes, my website is www.humandecisions.co.uk. And I'm also on LinkedIn as Tina Neve.

Jeremy Cline 59:26
Brilliant. And I'll put links to those in the show notes.

Tina Neve 59:28
Thank you so much.

Jeremy Cline 59:30
Tina, what I'm going to say is, thank you so much, huge amounts of valuable information, thanks so much for coming on the podcast.

Tina Neve 59:38
It's been an absolute pleasure, Jeremy, thank you.

Jeremy Cline 59:40
Okay, hope you enjoyed that interview with Tina Neve of Human Decisions. I deliberately allowed that conversation to go on a bit longer than my usual episodes, simply because there was so much that I wanted to get through. Unfortunately, I've a feeling that redundancy is something that quite a lot of people are going to be facing over the next, say, 12 months. Hopefully, I'll be proved wrong, but if not, then this interview gives you some material which can help you if that should happen to you. If you're made redundant, your first instinct is probably going to be to try to get another job as soon as you possibly can. But there is a lot to be said for Tina's suggestion of allowing a moment to pause and rebalance. Okay, so maybe you will need to get another job quickly, and maybe it won't be the job that you might otherwise have gone for had you been able to do this at your own pace. But taking that time to pause and rebalance, taking that time to reflect on where you want your career to take you to next, is going to stand you in much firmer stead. And as Tina said, there are plenty of people out there to help you through the process. If you want to go back and review any of the content for this episode, you'll find the show notes at changeworklife.com/144, that's changeworklife.com/144. As usual, there's a full transcript, summary of everything we talked about, and links to the resources which Tina mentioned. And this is another one of those episodes which I think lots of people are going to find helpful, particularly in the UK, and I'm conscious that we spent quite a lot of time on UK-centric rules. But if you know anyone who is at the threat of redundancy, or maybe has just been told that they're going to be made redundant, do send them a link to this episode, because I think there's a lot of stuff in what Tina was saying that will really help them. You'll find some buttons on the show notes page where you can share this episode via social media, or whatever podcast app you use has probably got a Share function. So, please do go ahead and share this episode. There's only two more episodes scheduled to come out between now and the end of the year. So, as I mentioned last time, if you've got some topics which you'd like me to cover next year, then do please get in touch, and you'll find a contact form at changeworklife.com/contact, that's changeworklife.com/contact. And that's where you can tell me whatever it is that you need most for 2023. In the meantime, there's another great episode coming out in two weeks' time, so make sure that you subscribe to the show if you haven't already, and I can't wait to see you then. Cheers. Bye.

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