How do I advocate for myself? - Ask Liz

Thursday 2 March 2023

 woman raising hand

Author: Liz Codd

Dear Liz,

My firm is making a lot of job cuts. I have been at the same company for most of my career and my boss assured me that I would keep my job, only to be made redundant himself! My team is being restructured and the person I now report to is someone I don’t have a good rapport with. I am worried that I will be laid off simply because of our relationship. How do I advocate for myself in this situation?

Dear Reader,

You've described a difficult situation at a difficult time, however you are looking for positive ways to respond to it which is not easy and shows resilience.  In terms of the employment laws around redundancy, it is a role that is made redundant not a person which means that your new boss is not able to justify redundancy as a direct result of the relationship (within the law).

I see a couple of responses to the situation that will put you in a stronger position than you feel you are in right now. The obvious response is to work on rebuilding the relationship with your new boss … but not knowing what this will take I have suggested other approaches to consider.   

However, can you step back and review your role in the context of the changes being made in the organisation?  Is your role essential to your team's objectives or can you see the possibility of a reorganisation resulting in it being made redundant? Taking this kind of rational and commercial perspective of our own role is hard as for us as individuals as it is tied up with our emotions about our work and we all want to feel that what we do everyday matters and is important. Is there someone you can discuss this with?  Someone who can help you dispassionately review the situation and see it as your boss and their bosses might see it?  This could help you to anticipate what might happen and therefore decide what you want to do next.

If your conclusion is that your role is unlikely to be made redundant then rebuilding the rapport with your new boss could be a good investment of your energy and time.  To do this, ask yourself what the basis of the lack of rapport is and try to analyse what has led to this, and what you can do to establish a better relationship.  Sometimes a lack of rapport is due to different personality styles, sometimes it is the history of events, sometimes it's as a result of not spending enough time together to build rapport.  Having understood the reason for the current status of the relationship, focus on what you can do to improve it.  Ask yourself what you have control of and focus on that rather than thinking that your boss is going to make changes to improve things.  Not to say that they won't but that's not something you have control over.  You could perhaps ask for a meeting with your new boss to discuss your relationship, naming the 'elephant in the room' and asking if they is willing to work on the relationship to improve it.  Clearly this is a direct approach and may not work in all situations.

 Another suggestion is to step back and consider your career in the longer term.  Having spent much of your career in one organisation it may be time to have a review and position yourself for the next phase of your career.  This is something that can benefit from the support of a career coach who can work with you to think things through and come up with a plan that you are confident is the right one for you and puts you in control of your career.  You may conclude that you want to stay in your current organisation and this could then result in re-energising you to do everything you can to ensure that is the case, whilst preparing you to move on if that becomes necessary.

I hope this is helpful and wish you all the best.

Got a question? Write to me, and I’ll give you some advice, on an entirely anonymous basis.  

Queries may be posted in anonymous, general terms, with Liz’s response, on our website. Liz may not be able to reply to all queries but will do her best to get back to you. 

Liz Codd, Director, Leadenhall Consulting and Chief Coaching Officer, Coaching on Demand.


Liz Codd - PI

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