Great news - unemployment numbers are historically low. In spite of these improved indicators, however, I am still getting requests for assistance from friends and clients who have lost or are in jeopardy of losing their jobs. Most recently a dear friend called and told me her husband was laid off. Her husband is a smart and personable guy - the kind of guy that would normally find a spot with little difficulty. And his job was a good one - prestige, pay the whole package. No matter. He's on his way out if he can't find another position within 30 days and he didn't see it coming.
Here's the thing: reductions in force are viewed not as a last resort but as an integral part of budget management. Work and the jobs that support the work are changing rapidly. While the overall number of postions available for workers may be increasing, there exists a "skills gap" that leaves workers without jobs and consequently, work undone. The cycle of downsizing some work and sizing up for new or reimagined work is constant. The reality is that downsizing changes lives, and in the short term, not for the better. The "elephant in the room", of course, is the emotional component to this. When you are directly impacted by a downsizing effort the process of "saving" yourself, leaving the business or letting someone go can be debilitating as can the stress associated with lack of job security. Until our corporate culture shifts to one that is focused on checkerboarding resources and continuos training as core values, you have to have a plan to weather this process. Do you have a plan? How secure are you? How secure is your position? How are you dealing with this uncertainty?
I've written before in my blog that understanding your placement is essential to improving your odds of success. Critical components of that understanding is knowing you are doing the right work at the right time in the right way. You understand and can speak about how your work is tied to your organizational and corporate business plan, how you and your work rate among your peers and that your contribution is understood and appreciated by at least two levels, your boss and your boss's boss. Additionally, having 360 degree vision is very helpful. Look and listen to what is going with your boss, peers and subordinates and find out what they think of you. Creating this type of awareness - awareness of standing - is very helpful when identifying strengths and areas for improvement. You can utilize an assessment or instrument to collect these data but often the personal touch of sharing and listening is both productive and informative. Lastly, know what is going on in your company. Read about your firm, your corporate officers and competitors. Know your company's strategy and vision. You should be able to articulate it and marry it to your and your organization's contribution to it. When there are rumblings about downsizing face them head - on. You need to know how you and your team will be impacted.
The key take aways are these:
- You are in charge of your development and performance - know where you stand.
- Ask questions and treat all offered information as feedback - even if you don't agree
- Work harder than ever on building viable networks. Make sure that you get both advice and insights. If that means building both an operational and developmental network go to it. It will be worth the effort.
- Keep your eye on the ball and attend to the basics: prioritize, work hard and work smart.
- Don't ignore the rumblings. The overhang of downsizing is counter productive. Find the truth and share it.
- Tie your objectives and accomplishments to organizational and corporate objectives. Gain agreement with your boss, and
- Collaborate with peers and subordinates to forge alliances and exceed corporate goals as well as your personal ones.
Embracing both a performance and solution orientation will help you achieve your goals while building the support you need to do well. Think of yourself as the type of person who gets things done, does them well and looks good doing them. The right people will notice. Also, you must have a current resume on file. Be ready to hit the ground running if you need to.
There is good news. Companies are certainly focused on productivity but there is a renewed focus on succession planning at all levels. Your executives are looking for the right folks with the right talent for their leadership. Be that talent. Take the steps to understand your contribution and market yourself to those who can partner with you on your road to success. At Real Leadership Associates, I believe in taking an organic approach to development - transforming performance from the inside out using business coaching, mentoring and change management programs and techniques. I can even help with your resume and provide you with some tips for coping with and managing stress associated with career adjustments. Contact Beth for more information.
Spring is finally here, we have opened our beach apartment and are anxiously awaiting and hoping for a happy, healthy and productive summer. Here's wishing you one too! Talk to you next month.