Your first reaction to a company shake-up may be to dive under your desk or catch the first flight out of town. But it’s probably a better idea stay put and create a plan of action. Company shake-ups are no fun, but they are inevitable and can be just what an organization needs to succeed. Hearing phrases like “cleaning house” and “cutting corporate fat” shouldn’t send you running. Instead you should find ways to survive.
In the current economy, job security is scarce or nonexistent. In the midst of a shake-up, holding on to your job may seem like a magic act, but there are some steps you can take so that when it’s all over you’re still standing — and still working. Here are some proven strategies for enduring and surviving the tumult:
- Maintain your personal best. Even if you’ve been assured that you won’t lose your job, it’s easy to let the quality of your work slide due to a negative or stressful office environment. Resist the temptation to slack off, because it could hurt you — and your company — in the long run. Eventually business will resume and your ability to perform well will be expected and essential. Developing bad habits like slowing down and shrugging off responsibilities will only make life harder when the shake-up is over. In addition, maintaining the quality of your work is an important way to display your value.
- Find a mentor inside or out. Consulting with a mentor within the company during a shake-up can be rather tricky, especially if the individual is preoccupied with his or her own future. On the other hand, you might find someone who has survived one or two reorganizations and who is willing to help you navigate through this one. Just be sensitive to the fact that everyone is under stress and is experiencing a similar sense of uncertainty. A mentor outside the company can probably provide some much-needed perspective.
- Step into leadership. Depending on where you are on the organizational chart, a company shake-up could present an opportunity for leaders. If you have a special skill or can identify a specific task that may facilitate a smooth transition, your odds for survival increase. Again, the desire to run for cover may be strong, but that won’t guarantee your job security. Don’t be afraid to step into a leadership role. Stepping forward during this time could turn out to be your wisest career move, since companies are always looking for people who can lead and manage in times of change.
- Don’t panic. Panic, while generally a destructive emotion, has a way of drawing you in, especially if everyone around you is anxious and uneasy. However, panicking will do nothing to help you survive. Indeed, sounding the alarm, whether you’re telling yourself or others that the end is near, will only aggravate an already tense situation and will possibly put you in an unfavorable position that is dangerously close to the exit door. Try to stay calm. Take deep breaths and keep your cool.
- Keep all channels of communication open. Information is key when it comes to surviving a company shake-up. Intelligence gathering should occur every day and your sources should come from all areas of the company. The more you know, the better. Remember, though, to verify your research. A shake-up often leads to panic, which feeds on misinformation.
- Maintain an open mind. The worst thing about a company shake-up is the unknown. Who’s going to survive and what will be left? Will the company be bought? Are you going to have to move? What about the raise you expected? These are all normal questions to ask during a shake-up. Sometimes, however, the unknown can result in unexpectedly positive outcomes like a surprise promotion, a different but more interesting job, or, believe it or not, a pay raise. Don’t underestimate the power of a positive attitude. Your cynical colleagues may glare or shake their heads, but ultimately you are the one who must take care of yourself.