Andrew Gager — firstname.lastname@example.org — is CEO of AMG International Consulting. He is a professional consultant and facilitator with more than 20 years of partnering with organizations in achieving strategic objectives and goals.
When a Manager’s Top Task Is Finding a Job
React and adapt: That's the order of the day for most managers -- even if that means reinventing yourself.
The COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of institutional and commercial facilities, from HVAC systems and entryways to cleaning procedures and budgets.
For many maintenance and engineering managers, the last year has meant dramatic changes in their facilities and departments as they help their organizations try to return to full operations. For other managers, though, the upheavals and chaos have meant something much more dramatic — changes in an employer’s financial situation that mean the possible or actual loss of a job.
I can relate.
In June 2001, I purchased a microbrewery with thoughts of making it big. I cashed out my retirement fund and used my home as collateral to start the business. I had two major investors that would feed me seed money as we grew. Then the terrorist attacks of Sept.11, 2001, happened.
My two main investors pulled out of the deal, feeling that given the uncertainty of the world at the time, it would be more prudent to hold onto their cash. So there I was — unemployed with no health insurance and no savings. I had been married 17 years with two young teenage children. I remember sitting down with my wife and telling her the dire situation we faced. Here is what she said: “I love you, I’m proud of you. Now get your ass back to work!”
Fast forward to 2020, when another catastrophic event happened — the COVID-19 pandemic. In December, I received a call from the owner of the company I worked for informing me that I was being let go as managing director due to the lack of work. Twenty years after the 2001 career crisis, I once again was unemployed with no health insurance. My wife and I have been married 38 years, and the kids are adults, but I do have a retirement fund, so I am not as bad off as I was then. This time, my wife said to me, “I love you, I’m proud of you. Now get your ass back to work!”
Like a lot of people in the United States and around the world, I’ve been through a difficult time. I went through anger, resentment, panic and depression. But now it is time to get back to work.
My wife was playing music the other day, and one of her favorite artists, Joni Mitchell, was singing, “A Case of You.” A line in that song caught my ear: “I live in a box of paints.” I wrote it down and traced it again and again. For some reason, the lyrics resonated with me. So now I’m opening that box of paint to see what the next picture of myself I can paint.