Conference

Don’t feel guilty

Posted April 30, 2009

If you work for a newspaper, you’ve probably experienced the world of layoffs in some manner — even if you’re the person still sitting at a terminal in the newsroom. That’s when it hits you. Survivor’s guilt. Teresa Schmedding and Daniel Hunt offered the manager and employee take on how to cope and how to continue doing good work in an often weary atmosphere.

First, a tequila and a chocolate bar may help. But there are more permanent and healthier strategies for coping.

Teresa’s advice for managers: “Let yourself off the hook. You can’t save the laid off worker after the fact.” She says managers also can’t pretend nothing has changed. Get your staff together. Come up with workable strategies for redistributing the work.

Daniel’s advice to the people still in the newsroom is: “Don’t lose your cool. Don’t burn bridges.” You’re allowed to be upset, but edit what you say before you say it.

Some of the best advice that came up — whether you are out the door or left behind — don’t freak out on Facebook or an Internet bulletin board.

You and your friends are not the only ones who look at the Web, and you never can tell you will be a potential future employer.

Teresa’s advice for managers: “You aren’t a friend, you’re the boss. Manage up and vertically. But get out from behind your computer and talk to your staff about what’s going on, to the best of your ability.”

At the session were a couple of people who work for papers that just had big layoffs. They both said the same thing — Daniel’s and Teresa’s advice is good to hear because while intellectually you know all of this stuff, it’s not always what you think of when bad things happen. And a session like “Survivor’s Guilt” helps get out those feelings in a constructive manner.

Finally, everyone should remember that your career is your choice. Demonstrate your value to the company, be prepared and do what you can do to embrace change. It will serve you well in any situation.

Last updated May 4, 2009

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Gerri Berendzen, an ACES board member, is editorial production coordinator at the Quincy Herald Whig in Illinois.

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better business bureau wrote 4 years, 12 months ago:

the company, be prepared and do what you can do to embrace change. It will serve you well in any situation.

Stainless Steel Pipe wrote 4 years, 12 months ago:

that’s a good post, thank you