That's How to Manage a Layoff!

Instructional designer Brenda Peterson joins me to discuss how to respond to a layoff. She shares what that process typically looks like and walks through the emotions and considerations that come along with it. She also gives some pointers on how to prepare yourself for what most hope will never come, including building your network, growing your skill set and knowing how to ask for help.

Connect with Brenda on LinkedIn, check out her blog at, or find her at Condition Orange Preparedness.

The following transcript was auto-generated and may contain typos or spelling errors.

Leslie Early 0:00

Okay, today I am excited to have fellow instructional designer Brenda Peterson here with me. And she is going to offer some of her best tips on how to handle or deal with, respond to or even possibly thrive after facing a layoff. So I think this is a very interesting topic, and a lot of people are going to get a lot of value out of this. So thank you so much, Brenda, for being here.

Brenda Peterson 0:24

Great. Thank you, Leslie.

Leslie Early 0:26

And so that's kind of my little spiel about you. But if you want to take a couple of minutes to sort of introduce yourself and kind of talk a little bit about your own journey with this topic, and why you feel so passionately about sharing it with people.

Brenda Peterson 0:41

So hi, everybody, I'm Brenda Peterson. I am a lifelong learner, and also somebody who's worked professionally in the field of learning since forever. I am a learning and development leader. I'm also a learning experience designer, a lot of times in the software space, as well as in other areas of l&d, including financial health care, all that kind of stuff. The reason that I come to this topic is because like a lot of people who work in training, I've actually been laid off a number of times, my current count is five. And so I've learned a lot in the process of being laid off. And so given, you know, current times when the economy might not be stable, or different areas of the economy may be stronger or weaker, it's just a good time to take a step back. And just think about possible futures you might have, and figure out how to prepare for that little bit better. So I have over the years had several friends who have come to me finding themselves laid off and and saying things like, I had that job for 20 years, I didn't look for a job forever, what do I do? or other people who have come to me and said, I'm really worried, like, what do I What do I do, because I'm worried about possibly losing my job. So that really brought me to share information about this topic a little bit more formally, with a lot of different people, either who are concerned about going through a layoff, or who have already gone through one and just what next steps they should take.

Leslie Early 2:04

Yeah, and and i will say, from personal experience, the reason why I'm so interested in this topic is because I was a teacher for a long time. And like, teachers don't we don't have really this layoff thing that you have to think about as much like you're sort of like in it, you know, you're just one thing if you're in for life, it feels like unless you decide to leave. So I I don't know anything about this. And I feel like people who are transitioning into it probably don't, as well, but so thank you for sharing. And I guess then, that leads me to my first question, which is like, I don't even know what a layoff really looks like, I've seen it happen on TV. But what how does that really play out? In real life? Like, what is that like?

Brenda Peterson 2:50

You know, valid question. It's, it's a very weird experience. I, I think of kind of just a typical scenario, if there is one, it's like you come in, in the morning, you've gotten your coffee, you're sitting down, looking at your email, thinking about that meeting you have later on today, making your plans, figuring out what all you need to do that report that you need to update. And then you get a tap on the shoulder from your boss, or at this point, maybe a virtual call.

Brenda Peterson 3:17

And suddenly you find yourself in front of your boss and the HR person hearing that you don't have a job anymore. So it's a very surreal experience. I know I've had that happen, coming back from vacation one time, or I was getting ready to do a big project. And it's like, oh, I guess we're not doing that anymore.

Brenda Peterson 3:37

It's it's also weird, because again, it's unexpected. As I look back at my memory of specific layoffs, I can't see I remember a lot of details from the actual meeting, because I think your head is going, what are we doing? How does this even work?

Leslie Early 3:52

So cognitive dissonance going on there?

Brenda Peterson 3:55

Yes. And so it's just looking at that and figuring out so now what happens and inevitably, when it's been in person, it's been well, here's, here's your box, your white box club member now, where you basically take all your stuff, and then you head home and you sit in your house going, what what just happened? And now what do I do? So it's a surreal experience that kind of takes you out of the middle of, of something you were planning on doing. It's also kind of interesting, because it takes a while for your mind to adjust. Because your minds thinking, Oh, I have to go to that meeting with, oh, I have to do that report on and you go No, I don't have that job anymore. I don't have to do any of those things. So it's just very trippy. And then you have to kind of adjust to Alright, so that happened. So like, now what do I do with myself? And how do I adjust and figure out how to move on?

Leslie Early 4:42

Yeah, and and when we were talking about this before your story was very interesting, because you had some really good tips for, you know, what you're describing sounds like, you know, the cognitive dissonance and like it's sort of shocking like you're in a little bit of a state of shock like when this happens, but your employer or whoever's, you know, orchestrating the layoff is also expecting you to make some decisions, even though you're in this like state of shock, and and you had some interesting advice about that.