Saturday, October 6, 2007

You Can Never Go Home

Yesterday, I took an online course entitled Navigating Change. I didn’t take it voluntarily. The company has a set of courses that combines logging into a web based manager, and using a set of CD’s in conjunction with this to complete the loop. Our task this fiscal year is to complete the entire series.

I also had some news that under most circumstances I would appreciate. My boss called to let me know about my raise. It’s good to have a raise, but my joy is tempered by the series of events that have taken place this year. It was because of the news about the raise that led me to take this particular course. I consider my self a fair person. They kept a promise to do their part, so I will do mine.

The concept discussed in the course that I found most interesting were the three phases of change. In the first phase, we fight the change and cling to the past. In the second phase, there is yet no clear direction from management on exactly what are tasks are or how to complete them. In this phase we are free to experiment with our new, yet undefined positions. In the third phase, we accept and understand the need for the change and become empowered by our creativity to make the change work. I have not yet reached the third phase, but believe I may just have entered the second.

My raise helped move me to this second phase. I am experimenting with tasks and trying to make sense of what I see. It also helps me better understand how others have been affected by the change. Watching others cope leads me to better understand my own emotional state.

What prompted me to pay more attention to the others, were the three conversations I had yesterday with former employees. One caller wanted to deliver some suggestions for me in reference to other companies and the contacts I know there. We chatted for a bit, and then disconnected. The second caller has and continues to try to help me into the company he is at now. One of our other colleagues is there also and sits close by his station. Both he and she where the second and third I spoke with yesterday.

What I find in these conversations is that all three wanted to hear something of the old place. They were also interested in any news I might have of other colleagues and where they may be. It occurred to me, that when we all worked together, I was the glue that kept the communication and information line open. It was interesting to see that they still, to some extent, depend on that from me.

Then the telling series of statements from the woman gave me insight into their emotions I had not had before. While true that my workplace has changed considerably since June, I still come to the same location day after day. I have an ear to the ground on how the company is doing, changes that are being planned, or hear news of people I have worked with for almost 7 years.

I have envied those who have been successful in finding new employment and moving on with their lives. I did not consider what it is they are navigating on their own. They were not given the opportunity of time to let go of the past as I have. By coming to the same location each day I have had to face that it will never be the same again. My colleagues were ushered out. No goodbyes, no last looks. They miss the people the used to work with, and they cannot even stop by to say hello. There is never any “coming back”. No one is home.

I cannot decide if I have been fortunate or set up for continued disappointment in the future. The work atmosphere under which I had worked and the people who made up the teams the worked under the same roof where unlike any people I had ever worked with before. We were truly a family. It will be hard to recreate that atmosphere anyplace else. Numega was unique in this. We can never go back home. We can make our lives in new places but we must never think we can recreate the past. I will let go, and for now, take care of the family that is there. They are navigating change too. As for those who can never come home again? It may be time for a quarterly newsletter that keeps the “family” connected.

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