“As a result of a transformation into an Agile organization with self-directed teams, a business decision has been made to reduce staffing levels. Your position will be eliminated effective 3/9/2018.”
I’ll never forget reading the official document that told me what I knew was coming, but had been dreading for several weeks – that my position as a Business Systems Analyst was no longer needed due to an organizational revamp to all Agile teams and a newer methodology of software development. (Get quality code to market faster, more efficiently, and with fewer people.)
As I sit here two months later, about to sign a severance agreement that officially breaks all ties to the company I’ve been with for over 11 years, I’m not overcome with anger, grief, or bewilderment. Instead, I am truly thankful.
If my now former company were a person, here’s what I would tell them I am thankful for, from the bottom of my heart:
You taught me to learn from my mistakes.
Like any employee, I made mistakes and took a wrong step here and there. I stepped on a toe or two. No matter what it was, you made sure I took something away from every single misshap.
As a result, I learned to always “under promise and over deliver” and not the other way around. I learned to know who my audience is and that not everyone processes information or needs it delivered the same way. I learned that if something seems like an easy fix, it’s probably not. I learned to always account for the “what ifs?” when writing test plans or requirements. I learned that asking what motivates an employee goes a long way in their personal growth and development. And I learned that it’s OK to not always feel like you had a productive day.
You taught me to be an effective communicator.
I have found myself as the “liaison” between Business and IT in most of my roles with you, and I learned quickly that to communicate effectively, I might have to write or speak differently, depending on my stakeholder group. When I had both IT and Business in my audience, questions like “We need this! Why can’t the developers do this?” or “Why on earth does the business want THIS? Do they know how many man hours this will take to code?” also had to be met with much tact, diplomacy, and skill. But I learned!
Thanks to you, I had lots of practice. Over time and through countless meetings, projects, test plans, reports, wireframes, charts and graphs, being an effective communicator has become an art for me.
You taught me how to deliver bad news.
There were times I had to share less than desirable outcomes. A missed deadline. A systems defect we wouldn’t be able to fix right away. An enhancement or initiative that we couldn’t get funding for. A bad employee review or a lousy raise.
Before my time with you I had such difficulty saying anything that wasn’t flowery or positive. I learned that having data to back up the decision, staying humble and offering an apology (where appropriate) goes a long way. I also learned that you can still be positive while delivering bad news.
I got to share plenty of good news, too, but am so thankful I can now do both with ease.
You taught me how to be more organized and manage my time more wisely.
There was a time where I simply could not get all of my work done in the 7.5 hour workday. I stressed. I cried. I brought my laptop home every night, got on it after dinner and on the weekends. You even came along on at least two family vacations with me, much to the chagrin of my family.
This skill set may have taken me the longest to acquire, but I finally learned to work smarter, not harder. I took a few company sponsored time management courses and started using the tools that were right at my fingertips. I remembered that I am only one person and that not every day would necessarily be a fruitful or productive one.
Further, I learned to delegate tasks where appropriate and to trust my teammates, and I reaped the benefits both personally and professionally.
You saw me through raising my kids, a divorce, and a hair color change.
My boys were 5 months, 6, and 9 when I walked through your doors for the first time. Today, my youngest is halfway through school; my middle child is finishing his senior year and preparing to attend Bowling Green State University next fall; and my oldest is planning his wedding for this May. Packing up my desk was like unearthing an 11-year time capsule. So many pictures, handmade cards, notes, and tissue paper flowers to box up from over the years to show how much they had grown in the time I’d worked for you. Priceless.
Seven years after my first day, I went through a divorce and you were the one thing that held straight and true. You were my constant, something I could come to every day and kick ass at while the rest of my life was spiraling out of control. Thank you for that.
When I started my career with you, I was a bleached blonde. About halfway through, I decided to go brunette (which I THINK is my natural color… I’m actually not sure). My co-workers were shocked when I came to work the next day, and I still laugh to think how long it took them to get used to my new dark locks. You wouldn’t allow a new picture for my security badge, but I’m glad. It was fun to keep the original (though deeply faded) picture and to see how different I look more than a decade later.
You were good to me, all the way to the end.
When I did finally get the notice of my job elimination, it wasn’t a surprise. You had already told me what was going to happen months before so that I could prepare. You gave me the reasons why. You gave me access to resume and interview workshops so I’d be sharp for my impending job search. And you offered me a generous severance package for the years of service I gave, which will give me a cushion and the time I need to find the perfect next job.
Finally, you delivered a box to my house to send my laptop and security badge back in. I’d have expected the padding inside the box to be black or grey or some other color, but it was bright pink! It made me happy. When I closed the box and shipped it off to your headquarters, I felt a weight lifted from my chest. And I smiled.
Two days ago, when I walked out of your doors for the last time, I felt many emotions. Sadness that this chapter of my life has ended. Excitement and maybe a little anxiety for the next chapter, whatever that may be. But above all, thankfulness!
You have shaped me into the diplomatic, organized, analytical, customer-minded requirements-writing, results-driven, self-starting go-getter I am today. Better yet, you have groomed me to be some extremely lucky company’s future employee. I can’t wait to tackle new projects and be part of a team again. I can say with confidence that I am a good hire. No, a GREAT hire.
So, from the bottom of my heart, thank you for giving me the axe. Thank you for everything.