Nancy J Ross

I have been through a reorganization where I actually ended up on the “excess” list for placement somewhere else. First, I suggest volunteering to be involved in the reorganization in some manner if the opportunity is offered. This at least gives you some sense of control and certainly gives you access to more information. It also is an opportunity to show you are a team player.

Second, give careful thought to your goals in life, what is really important to you. Many of us in government consider our jobs to be our life’s vocation. This generally makes us dedicated employees, but in a potential RIF situation you have to be able to separate who you are from your job. Don’t worry so much about what you are qualified for, but more about what other types of jobs would fulfill your hopes, your dreams, your calling.

You would be amazed how just having a game plan, or escape route can give you that sense of control that is critical to maintaining optimism. Best of all, the optimistic, upbeat employees are the ones management wants to keep around! They will try very hard to arrange the reorganization to eliminate the complainers, gossipers, and pessimists. They may not be successful because there are so many rules in government about who actually gets the boot. But even if those folks hang onto to their job, they will still be miserable. If you have a plan and you do end up being RIF’d, so be it, you have a plan!

I actually ended up competing successfully for a promotion because management was so impressed with my optimism despite the fact that I knew my position was going to be abolished! And I have received multiple promotions since. A similar employee who became depressed and grumbled and complained is still working, but received a downgrade and was never promoted despite applying to many other jobs.