Do you read the newspaper or are you scared to read about more layoffs? Today’s economy is causing a lot of people a lot of anxiety. If you do have a job, you may be distracted by the gloomy talk that’s so common now about the economy. It may be hard for you to focus on your work. You can survive this mess and preserve your sanity.
Make your first priority your job. Especially if there’s a whiff of organizational change where you work, there’s probably gossip going on round the clock at your company. If you think your first priority is to get all the scuttlebutt going around, you will get distracted. I can assure you that when managers look to cut people, they’re looking to cut the poor performers, not the best ones. Now is the time to do your best work. Even better, is there more work you can do? I know. You’re thinking that you’re already stressed. I’m not asking you to do self-inflicting damage. If you see that you can do more for someone else, then do it. This means covering for someone when they’re on vacation by taking their phone calls. That’s little enough to do that shows you care for others as well as your company and it makes a difference, too.
Listen, be aware, but don’t gossip. I remember when the company I worked for was purchased by another corporation. The rumors were flying all around. The new headquarters was two time zones away, with staff we didn’t know. It always amazed me that there were one or two people that seemed to be plugged in to the news of the day. I never could figure out how they heard what they did. Perhaps it was during every call to another department they asked, “So what have you heard?” Then by combining all their “research” they came up with their reports. Did I listen? Sure I did. I wanted to have some idea of what was going on. I never made it my mission to be a reporter or broadcaster. Instead, I thought it was more important to be seen as someone who works, not someone who could get a job with the local paper.
Be nice. This may sound overly simple, but it’s not. Now is not the time to be a south bound end of a north bound mule (also known as an ass.) In other words, if you pride yourself on how difficult you are to work with, I would rethink that strategy–especially if you are in management. If you’re a manager, sure you have the power to be tough. Everyone knows that management has power. You don’t have to beat people over the head with your power. You still can be nice about it. Even better is to be smart about how you use your power. If you want people to deliver, make sure you are a good communicator. Be clear about what you expect and the deadlines you want met. Share as much information as you can with subordinates. In times of uncertainty, news is appreciated. Even better is to be the source of confidence and calm. Your job is to be there to listen and offer support, not to add to the anxiety. Your job is to keep the boat afloat–not sink it.