During Covid-19 period ,job eliminations and hiring freezes seem almost routine, but when your own company’s woes start to make headlines, it all hits home. Intellectually, you understand that downsizing isn’t personal; it’s just a law of commerce, but your heart sinks at the prospect of losing your position. While you know that passivity is a mistake, it’s hard to be proactive when your boss’s door is always closed, new projects are put on hold, and your direct reports look to you for reassurance. Don’t panic. Even though layoff decisions may be beyond your control, during lockdown all over the world because of COVID-19.
Give Your Leaders Hope
It’s important to recognize that times of uncertainty are also tough for leaders. They don’t enjoy having to lay off their people; most find that task agonizing. It can be stressful and time-consuming for them to sort through the various change mandates they’ve been given and then decide what to do. Obviously, this isn’t the time to push for a promotion or to argue for a new job title. Instead, try to help the leader defend your department. If the boss is working on a restructuring plan and asks for ideas, offer some realistic solutions. Don’t fight change; energize your colleagues around it.
Become a Corporate Citizen
Remember Woody Allen’s remark that 80% of success is showing up? That is especially useful advice in a downturn. Start going to all those voluntary and informal meetings you used to skip. Be visible. Get out of your office and walk the floor to see how folks are doing. Take part in company outings; if the firm is gathering for the annual golf tournament and you can’t tell a wood from an iron, then go along just for fun. In tough times, leaders look for employees who are enthusias
tic participants. It’s not the score that counts.
Many who resisted change found themselves without a chair when the music stopped.
Of course, changing your behavior or personality to survive may rub against your need for authenticity, and you may decide that it’s time to move on. In that case, you can be both true to yourself and the ultimate corporate citizen by volunteering to leave the organization. Despite what the policy may be, companies will cut deals. Deals are even welcomed. It’s much less painful for managers if they can help someone out the door who wants to leave rather than give bad news to someone who depends on the job. If you’re a couple of years away from retirement eligibility and want to go, ask the company if it would be willing to bridge the time. Float a few balloons, but don’t get greedy. Keep in mind that even if you choose to go, you may need to get another job and you’ll want good references and referrals. If you’ve exited gracefully, odds are, your boss and others will do whatever they can to help you land on your feet.
Many forces are beyond your control in a recession, but if you direct your energy toward developing a strategy, you’ll have a better chance of riding out the storm. You have to be extremely competent to make it through, but your attitude, your willingness to help the boss get the job done, and your contribution as a corporate citizen have a big impact on whether you are asked to stick around. The economy will bounce back; your job is to make sure that you do, too.
Motivate your team
Another way to keep morale high and stand out as a voice of positivity is to take the lead in motivating your teammates. Changes in work processes and daily dynamics can be very disruptive. Make a conscious effort to keep people motivated in light of these obstacles.
Try planning a Zoom happy hour; get creative with Zoom backgrounds for meetings; or organize another virtual team-building activity. At the very least, reach out to your team members and see how they’re doing. Checking in on people lets them know you care and allows them to voice their concerns privately. Doing this regularly might be the difference between team members who feel heard and empowered, versus ones who feel left to deal with their problems alone. Make people feel important individually, and they’ll be much more likely to work well together as a team.
Focus on the positive
It’s way too easy to get bogged down in the negative right now. This is especially true if you’re living in a community that was hit hard by the pandemic or unemployment. But being positive, particularly at work, will always serve you well in the long run. Big changes make people feel insecure, and they’ll be looking around to the reactions of others to gauge their own feelings and responses. Make an effort to stay positive, and you’ll inspire others to do the same.
Acquire new skills
It’s never a bad time to learn something new. But during times of uncertainty? It might be the most important time to expand your horizons. The more you have to offer your employer, the more secure you’ll feel in your role.
See a team member struggling to manage their workload? Offer to help. Is there a project you’ve been wanting to tackle for months now? Now’s the time to get started. It might sound like a fortune cookie, but if you can prioritize growth during this time — you’ll be rewarded later on.
Get things done
Don’t let the current mood affect your motivation. Now more than ever is the time to thrive when it comes to managing your workload and getting things done. Don’t let yourself fall behind, and if you feel comfortable doing so, try to take on more. Become your manager’s go-to person when they need something done. If you make yourself valuable in the eyes of your employer, you’ll increase your feelings of job security.
Help generate revenue
Depending on your current role and skill set, you might be seeing something that others aren’t. If there are creative solutions that can help your company earn more revenue right now, work with your team to make those things happen. Similarly, if you see gaps in knowledge that you can fill with your team members, consider doing so.
For example, you might be working in a marketing role but formerly headed up a sales team. Gather up your colleagues for an inter-departmental brainstorming session to try and come up with solutions that will help your company thrive. Taking this kind of initiative will not only show your employer you care, but it will also make everyone around you feel better about improving the company’s chances of success.