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My Organization Divorced Me!
by Tamara Strickland

I am the woman "that didn't see it coming." I thought the relationship was committed and we had all the characteristics of a great partnership and would continue our bond for years to come. Then I began to suspect that maybe there were underlying issues between us but had full faith that we would focus on the long term and pull through. But after our twenty three years together, via e-mail, you broke up with me! My organization is leaving me for another suitor.

My first reaction was total disbelief and hot stinging tears! Followed quickly by the quite impressive and dramatic reaction of "I gave you the best years of my career" and now you care no more for me than to end our relationship via e-mail? I read the e-mail again and again. Could I have misinterpreted your message? Reading it word for word to ensure it really read "it is with a heavy heart that I tell you that you no longer have that Fortune 500 Vice President position that you worked so diligently to attain. I really appreciate that you negotiated your life around me, that you did not use all of your vacation most years because I needed you to meet with offices and customers. Thank you so much for only taking three weeks off when you had the baby and for those many days and nights on the road helping solve my issues and attain my goals. You will forever have my appreciation! With forever defined as about the next 30 days because I have found another. You did read this correctly...I am leaving you." Yes, right there on my blackberry I was told that my organization "was really not that into me" any longer.

Certainly I attended the spontaneous therapy sessions that happened in conference rooms the following week. Organizations like partners don't' just leave...what did I miss? How could I have been so blind? Did I not see that we were growing apart? If I had lost the weight and went for that nip and tuck....or I mean finished that last project ahead of schedule and under budget, would the outcome have been different? Why were you looking for another partner? Are you serious, I am really that easily replaced?

I thank you for the follow-up executive communication (nice word for another e-mail!) that regretted to information me that in addition to leaving me, you are taking the money in my severance package. The new suitor just like a good divorce attorney said "they did not have to legally pay the severance package" therefore, forget that those were the funds I was counting on to ensure that my daughter remained comfortably in college. I would have to find another alternative. I was beyond angry! I thought of the times through our years together that I had other potential partners but no, I remained committed to you. When the very same organization that is now buying us called me last year, I said it was a lovely and generous offer but that I loved my job and it was not time for me to go. And now I am treated by that same organization as if I have no options and will take quietly take what is offered and be grateful for it. I stand in my office trying to breathe while putting on my "corporate victim" t-shirt as "the other woman" dictates all the terms of our separation.

With emotions still very unsettled and grieving my loss the new buyer creeps into our once happy corporate home. We were formidable competitors in the marketplace just last month and now they are in all of our conference rooms and asking us to defend our place on the corporate planet by explaining a few spreadsheets.

Much like the partner in the weaker position in divorce proceedings, I attempt to defend myself and ask for fair consideration of all that I have brought to the partnership through the years. The new CEO and his group of divorce attorneys look marginally interested but I sense that they have heard all the accomplishments many times before and really in the end it is simple...does my corporate survival make economic sense in the new world?

I have moved from shock to anger to grief and now acceptance that you are gone and I have to move forward. I am once again assured that the best years of my career are yet to come and excited about what the future holds. I am able to look at my time we were together and realize that it was a hell of a ride. I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to work at such a great organization and one that gave me so many opportunities while compensating me with a really nice standard of living. I have come full circle to realize that we were mutually benefiting by being together through the years.

So I am off to find my next corporate partner and how about those new job search engines? The job search is much like on-line dating! There is great competition for each position and I am using words like "dynamic" "successful" and "results oriented" to describe me. Also hoping I have the right key words that a suitor might search and produce a desire to meet and discuss future potential. You get to know who I am but I do not get to see your personal information unless you believe "there is a match". Last week I was notified that several recruiters had reviewed and saved my resume. Is that like a virtual date saying that they will call?

For the last five years, I have worked in a position of change management leadership within the organization. Isn't that ironic that I was focused on the changes of others and did not see my own change slamming into me from behind? For now, I remain a Vice President at the organization which I have been so proud to be an employee all these years well, at least until the divorce is final at the end of this month.


The Author

Tamara Strickland

Tamara Strickland has served as a Vice President of a Fortune 500 company, and now consults with businesses focused on organizational change through remote management techniques and business process redesign. Tamara is able to bring real world experience to assist other managers making organizational transitions. She has twenty years of successful experience in helping different organizations obtain operational efficiencies through using advanced change management techniques. Tamara has worked with organizations in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom on Operational Efficiencies, Remote Management topics and Organizational Change. She holds an MBA and professional certification in Business Process Management.

Tamara can be contacted at

Many more articles in Personal Development in The CEO Refresher Archives
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Copyright 2009 by Tamara Strickland. All rights reserved.

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