MY ATTEMPT TO BALANCE THE FORCE. WRITING AND WORKING.

Book cover, The Loyalty Effect (revised editio...

Book cover, The Loyalty Effect (revised edition) by Fred Reichheld (Harvard Business School Press, 2001) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I worked out a couple of months ago that to have any chance of achieving my dreams within writing. Something was going to have to give.Working 60 hours each week and trying to focus the rest of any time that I am not asleep with creativity and be present in my marriage and life was becoming impossible.

So I put my best foot forward and accepted some requests I’d had from other companies to go to interviews.

I didn’t apply for any of these new jobs, they came looking for me and now that I am two interviews away (two separate positions) from a new role with more time for writing I am really nervous.

I know that the move is the right thing and that in the long-term, I’ll have far more time to focus on my Book, the disadvantage is that with any new role comes those first six months where you are picking up a new culture and learning intensively every day. Long term I’m good but short-term it’s just as tough.

Back to the loyalty piece then. During this process I was also approached by a direct competitor of the company I work for with an offer for a role with a significant pay rise. Not just a couple of hundred extra a month. MUCH MORE.

I went along to the interviews because the company had a real refreshing out look on the work life balance and believes that productive people are those who are well rested and well-adjusted and not comatose with overwork. They had a leave early policy on a Friday and is very flexible in this regard.

I got through to the fourth stage, did all the psychometric tests, the logical truth tests, Yada, Yada. They asked for all my package details the night before the last interview. They wanted to make me an offer I would never be able to turn down. The only thing I needed to do was show up and barring swearing, arriving naked or killing someone I was good for this role.

I couldn’t do it, first thing in the morning I removed myself from the process. I know it sounds nuts but I don’t want to leave the current company on bad terms and it would’ve been bad terms. Frogmarched to the door, leaving, car, phone and laptop. I’ve seen it happen to others. The other two jobs I am still in the running for, whilst a similar role (better money) aren’t for direct competitors and whilst they’re never going to be happy about me leaving (for any reason) I wouldn’t have the bad terms hanging over me.

The Managing Director of the company wanted a chat about why I’d withdrawn and I explained my reasons to him. He didn’t get it. He was shocked that I would put some form of emotional attachment (loyalty) to my current employer above my own needs. He explained he’d done something similar and yes, it had been a distressing process to go to a competitor but he’d never looked back.

I just can’t do that…. I’ve never left a single company on bad terms and I am not about to start now.

Am I nuts? Is loyalty dead in the workplace?

REDUNDANT – IS A FILTHY WORD

Three months ago I booked a week off in August. I figured that no matter what happened (my husband was made redundant very unexpectedly) I was probably going to need the break. As it happens the hubby is now back in fulltime employment with a fantastic new job.

So I now have a week off to do whatever I choose. There simply is no describing the feeling of abandon that has overwhelmed me. To put the icing on the cake, today was actually a good day at work. I was busy, productive and knew that I was staring these days of freedom in the face.

Husband with a new job, has not accrued enough holiday to join me. Which I am pleased about. Because, it’s hard when someone loses their job for no real discernible reason. They’re fragile, their confidence is low and they think they are a failure. Even the expression “loses” seems to compound the feelings of isolation and rejection they experience. I think somehow its worse when its redundancy. They couldn’t even give him a reason for Christ sake.

unemployment
unemployment (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

A friend at the company rang him on his personal mobile about two hours after the meeting where he’d walked in a big fish with new projects and opportunities and walked out unemployed.

“I hear you’re sick” the friend said.

“Umm, yeah” my husband replied.

That’s the thing with the hush papers they make you sign. You get XXXX if you leave quietly and promise not to tell anyone or raise any kind of action against the company.  If you refuse to sign, they give you a week to think about it, then you’ll get the statutory which is equal to one salary month pay. My husband decided that we couldn’t wait six months to get justice and he would rather search with all his heart for something else (accompanied by a reference he could write himself – all part of the deal).

The worst thing was suddenly it all starts to make sense. All those people who were going off on the sick and were un-contactable suddenly weren’t with the company any more. So my husband joined the line of “leave quietly” and I still bristle at the injustice of it. The decision was his and sometimes as much as these things get your hearts gladiator going, you have to accept that the person you love will find their own way.

We went to see a lawyer, to check, if what they were doing was legal. It is to a point…. If you sign.

The worst thing about unemployment and redundancy is that even if it’s not you, you get to go through it just the same. My sweet apples, and it is so tiring. You feel every good day where someone calls to talk about an opportunity. You are at every interview and you feel personally rejected when they don’t get that job. After the first few weeks, pressure mounts on you both, that doubt starts to creep in. Will they ever get a job? It’s not the money, you know you can keep going for a minimum of five months due to the “Deal”. It’s the uncertainty.

You are still working of course – long hard days. You can’t talk to them about work because at least you have a job. So you start to become strangers. You become careful and watchful with your words, you don’t celebrate your own little successes anymore. You get frustrated when you get in late and the dishes are still in the sink. You think things like “You’ve been at home all day, why the f can’t you do just one thing around the house”.

We were lucky in two ways. The first is that I am passionately and madly in love with the most wonderful man in the world. The second is that I’d been through it eighteen months before. I think the understanding of all that. Saved Us.

It took eleven long weeks for him to find something. The sense of relief was overwhelming for us both. He never knew that I doubted, I was always strong, happy and positive . On the inside I was and still am, a little emotionally wrecked!

So these days of freedom are a blessing, I can have duvet days. I can get up when I want. I get to re-charge those batteries. What’s even better is that I completely forgot I booked the time off until my Boss emailed me at 11.30pm on Thurs night about a handover. I debated cancelling it. Duvet and Writing days won by a country mile.

So I sit on my writing couch with a big fat grin on the face…..

Comments as always welcome.