At the end of 2007 I was laid off. I fell victim to the dotted line problem. For the previous six months I had been assigned to one manager but working for another. This is always a precarious position when downsizing happens. Your old manager is still paying you but your new manager is getting all the benefits of your work.
The company gave me 60 days notice to finish my project; I was getting ready to release a new subsystem and they wanted me to finish it. I tried to focus on my work, but I was also thinking about ways to stay with the company. Could I get them to increase the budget somewhere? Was it possible to move to a different group? Could I just make them change their minds?
It was tough because the downsizing was across the entire division and nobody had the resources to hire new people. As my last 60 days turned into my last 30 I became convinced I would have to leave. I worked on my resume, started a new professional blog (which I should have had already), and began looking at my professional network to see who could help me find my next job.
I didn’t realize it, but during this time my dotted line teammates were fighting for me. They were talking to anyone and everyone they could think of; up to the highest levels of the company. They spent time, effort, and political capital trying to find a place for me to stay in the company.
With just two days to spare they succeeded. They convinced the company to make the dotted line solid and I joined their team. I was the only person from that round of layoffs to stay in the company. Those guys fought to make a place for me. They saved my job. And they had never met me.
My new team was located in a different part of the country and I had never met any of them face-to-face. We had established a bond while working together remotely. They knew I would be good for the team because of my interactions with them and not just the code I wrote.
I hadn’t been an official part of their team before that, but I reached out to them. I joined all of their team meetings and I called them one-on-one to share ideas make connections. I made sure they could see my work and did everything I could to make it easy for them to give me an A. It saved my job.