Handling Change with Grace While Grieving

Pam Oliver, FOX NFL Sunday

Pam Oliver, FOX NFL Sunday

By now, everyone has heard of Fox NFL Sunday’s sideline reporter, Pam Oliver, being demoted from the A crew broadcasting team with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Oliver is still working the sidelines this season for her 20th year of sideline reporting with a B crew, but after this season will head over to Fox Sports 1(FS1) “to help give FS1 more reporting credibility… and work primarily on specials and long-form stories” (Amber and Oliver).

For better or worse, most of us who spend any considerable amount of time in a career or working in general will receive similar news. The company may want to appeal to a younger demographic like Fox NFL Sunday going to the younger Erin Andrews. Or, the company may simply change directions and your skill set isn’t a great fit or you haven’t convinced the higher-ups how your skills fit into the “new” organization. Or, you may even have a personality conflict with the new management team. Whatever the cause, Pam Oliver show us how to handle this job change well and affirms what many of us go through when faced with career altering change.

When rumors started about Erin Andrews taking Pam Oliver’s slot, Oliver chose to ignore the rumors and just focus on continuing to do her best as always. That’s commendable. It would be great if that’s all we had to do was to do a great job. She was going through the first stage of grief, denial.

Lesson 1: At some point unfortunately, you have to pay attention to office politics. While denial is a natural defense mechanism, you can’t stay at this point for an extended period of time. You have to prepare yourself for what’s next and be proactive about it.

In most instances, if you work for a sensible company, that is, you will be notified of the change long before it is made public. When the information was made public in Oliver’s case, she said nothing.

Lesson 2: Don’t discuss this information with other employees. Only discuss this with those who are on your trusted team. You’re probably still too hurt and angry at this point – the second stage of grief.

Next, Oliver was able to negotiate or bargain (the 3rd stage of grief) with the network to finish her 20th year. Originally, she was not going to be on the sidelines for the 2014-2015 football season.

Lesson 3: You still have some power. Ask for what you want. Your bosses are only human and at this point, they may even feel a bit guilty. Giving you something you want could help them with that guilt.

She then acknowledged her true feelings. She was deeply hurt by the situation. She was in fact going through the fourth stage of grief, depression.

That was very difficult to hear. Even so, I kept my composure during the
           meeting. When we said our good-byes, there were hugs all around. I thought
           I’d handled it pretty well, but when I left the restaurant, I got into my car and
          noticed my hands were shaking. I was like, Okay, that hurt… For a while I was
          lost in sadness. (Amber and Oliver)

Lesson 4: I know we’re all supposed to be tough guys and gals, but let’s face it, depression is real. According to the CDC, 235,067 people or 9.1% of the population in the United States meet the criteria for depression. The sooner you recognize it, the sooner you can get help, talk therapy, medication, true friends, etc.

And finally, she changed the narrative, or got to a point of acceptance; the final stage of grief. She says,

I’m not out on the streets. I’m not unemployed. Everybody wins: Fox gets its coveted
         reporter in the lead role and I get to do my sideline job for my twentieth and  final    
         year I’m also looking forward to developing stories that interest me and delivering   
         long-formpieces for FS1. That kind of work is like being in reporter heaven. (Amber
and Oliver

Lesson 5: Why not believe that the change could be good for you? Maybe this is God’s way of not so gently whispering that it’s time to do something else. Why not reevaluate if you are fulfilling your purpose or life’s passion. Maybe they just did you a favor. Look for the lesson as there is always one in the toughest challenges that we face.

Not related to the stages of grief, but another important lesson to learn is to manage your social media presence. If you’re reading this then you may already be managing your presence effectively. In speaking of Erin Andrews, Oliver comments, “She’s also popular on Twitter and social media, so I can see how that would also make her highly sought after.” It’s all about Likes and Follows.


About LaKo

I'm a sports enthusiast who looks for lessons and analogies in sports and tries to apply those lessons to my personal and work life. In May 2013 I began my life as a runner with Black Girls Run!. Now, as a member of the Atlanta Track Club, I'm continuing my journey to preserve my sexy.
This entry was posted in Life Lessons, Management Lessons and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Handling Change with Grace While Grieving

  1. reliongod says:

    Hey girl,

    Great insight with real truth woven throughout. Thanks for sharing. Love hearing a good word!

  2. Pingback: When doing a good job is enough | LaKo's Lessons from Sports

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