In the past, paralyzed by the present or ploughing ahead?
It is certainly not a great position to be in – either fearful of losing your job or being downsized. I know, I have been there twice myself, once in the last major recession in the late 80’s and the first time from one of my first sales jobs – the whole salesforce of over 200 was let go in one meeting – now that was an experience.
There are usually some immediate reactions when the axe falls or is about to fall and these are all normal human reactions to what is a stressful time – so here are some thoughts and actions to take that will help:
1.Help more, judge less
With so much negativity floating around it is easy for that to rub off and you start to judge people and make negative assumptions about them and even wish them ill fortune.
Take the reverse approach and offer to help more, who can you introduce them too? How can you help them with their job? When you genuinely give then it will come to you as well as you seek out help and assistance.
One of my continuous actions is to help – particularly those who are going through what I have, if there is any way that my experience and learnings can help others avoid or minimize what might happen to them I am there to offer that guidance.
2.Focus on the future
I know I hear you saying – well that’s easy to say and a lot harder to do. Absolutely. But when it all boils down there really is nothing you can do to alter the past, it is gone, happened, you cannot change it – it’s history. However you can certainly affect the future and your place in it, so spend your energy looking forward. I am sure this current crisis offers way more opportunity than we are being led to believe – we just have to believe it ourselves.
Can you honestly say that everything you did and said were right? Probably not, so take some responsibility for your behaviour. Even if the downsizing’s I experienced could not be avoided, there was probably things that I could have done differently that might have had some influence, so I take responsibility for that and try to ensure that it does not happen again. . One lesson I learnt after my first downsizing was always have an up to date resume and to go interview once a year – for practice and to know my market value, so when the second time came I was ready and taking action.
4. Seek learning
There are always lessons to be learned even in adversity, the most successful people have usually had hardship and failure many times over before finally getting it right. My second downsizing taught me that I needed to leverage what I was good at and to make a complete career change and I ended up in medical devices and ultimately National Sales Manager of a biotech company – with no degree and no science qualifications.
5. Expand reflection
It is a fine line between positive peer support and the misery club so you have to be extremely careful. But getting together with like minded people in a similar situation can help with recovery and faster action moving forward. Collectively learning and supporting can be a powerful combination if handled right.
6. Watch your temper
I know I was angry the first time I was downsized, the package was generous which helped cushion the blow but bottom line was my ability was being questioned (or at least I thought so at the time). Don’t overact – take time to cool off and reflect, it is nearly always a sound business decision and a cost of doing business that things have happened the way they have, its usually never personal – so don’t get angry and make it so.
7. Know when to speak
Sometimes saying nothing, even if you are correct, it might be the right thing to do – it could be a bad news meeting where you are surviving (for now) or in your termination meeting, or even at an interview with a prospective new employer – do not think just “am I right?” – but also “is my contribution going to help the situation or the people involved?” - Sometimes not and better to be silent.