My company is undergoing downsizing now and so many people are being laid off, pushed out or given retirement packages. It’s so stressful and disturbing to be around this every day. I’m sad for my friends and colleagues, and really worried about where I stand. How can I weather the storm, keep my staff (and myself) motivated, even when I know I could be next? I’m really overwhelmed at the idea of finding new employment at my age too. Where do I begin? I’ve been here a long time and I feel really let down by the company. What’s the best way to behave in this situation?
Thanks for your advice,
This is a very tough situation indeed (I’ve been there, and it’s so emotionally challenging) – to be under scrutiny yourself while attempting to be a motivating and inspiring leader and manager during times of change. And it’s hard to feel like you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop, and not in control of your fate. I really applaud your efforts, and your commitment to staying motivated and helpful for your staff and colleagues given all you’re going through.
The best advice I can give involves two aspects of the situation – managing yourself well in times of uncertainty and dramatic change, and inspiring others to do the same.
First, in tumultuous times, it’s vitally important to focus on bringing your highest and best self forward, to be the kind of leader, manager, and colleague that you’ll be proud of, no matter what happens. When we fail at this, that’s what causes the most sadness and regret looking back – how you behaved under pressure and the kind of leader and supporter you were able to be for others. This means staying as far away from negative behaviors like gossip, back-stabbing, and catastrophizing, and endeavoring to do your work to the best of your ability.
One key is to avoid actions, thinking and words that you’ll regret in the future.(For a powerful read on behaviors that support us in tough times, check out The Four Agreements).
Find new ways to be of service, and commit yourself to your work and your leadership in a constructive manner so that you will be remembered for your strength, your resilience, and your positive attitude.
If you are being evaluated for downsizing, it’s often because your role is redundant, or there are efficiencies that can be achieved by deleting or reshaping your position, or you personally have not been deemed essential or beneficial to the team and the organization’s vision for the future at this juncture. Your behavior now won’t alter much how you fare with the first two criteria, but it could shape the third – how others view you and the importance of your contribution going forward.
In terms of motivating others, be open and honest as far as you can, but manage your emotions, and neutralize your negativity, fear or anxiety. Work to clear yourself of what you’re afraid of – by taking concrete action to understand the situation and by doing your best regardless of challenges. Have regular meetings with your staff where they can share feedback, concerns and create a strategic plan that your team can buy into. I’d err on the side of openness – let people express their concerns, but don’t let it be a dumping ground. Set really strong boundaries around how you will hear, and address, these concerns.
If being downsized is a strong possibility for you, stop and conduct a deep, intensive evaluation now of what you really want. Do you want to stay here and continue in this role, or is it truly time to go, even if they offer you the opportunity to stay? So often, when these events occur in our lives, it’s a clear sign that we’re ready for change, but we’ve often been too afraid or reluctant to make it. Determine now very clearly what you want, the type of culture and organization you want to work with/for, or if it’s finally time to work independently, as a consultant, business owner, etc. Identify the role you ideally want to play in the workforce. Then do something about it.
Engage now (don’t wait) in the key steps of planning for your next chapter and/or looking for a new job or role, including:
- upgrading your resume and LinkedIn profile
- building your awesome support network
- reaching out to wonderful colleagues and peers to get reconnected and share your visions for the future
- requesting testimonials and endorsements for your digital profile
- attending organizational and professional events that excite you
- identifying the top 30 companies you want to work for, and what type of role you want next
- interviewing successfully to achieve that
Over the long arch of your career, it’s vitally important to be realistic – understand with eyes wide open the real challenges you face – but also remain positive, upbeat and hopeful (yes, being positive absolutely affects your career). Engage in co-creating what you desire to happen and do everything in your power to shape the next chapter of your life and work as you truly want it.
I can’t tell you how many professionals I’ve worked with who at first are so devastated by a lay-off or firing, but then look back five years later and realize what a tremendous gift it was in their lives, because it catalyzed them to finally choose, decide and commit to becoming exactly who they wanted to be the world. This was the case for me regarding my brutal layoff after 9/11, and I’m so grateful now that it happened.
In the end, 90% of your success in your professional life is how you view yourself deep down – as a person, a contributive professional, a leader, a change agent, and an integral part of a team that is making a difference. If you struggle to feel any of those things, you’ll struggle to create a career and work experience that fulfills and supports you.
I hope that’s helpful to you. You’ll get through this, and find a way to thrive.
All best wishes,
Read the original article on Forbes.