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I’d be lying if I said the recession isn’t a stressful time for many folks, or that it doesn’t cause us to go about our business with some ‘unusual behaviors’.
There are things that we can do that won’t help our situation, even though it might feel a relief at the time. Below, you’ll see some of the typical ‘unusual behaviors’ observed in a recession. When I say ‘observed’ I have only had to look in the mirror for some! See if you recognize any of these behaviors, in yourself or your colleagues.
- Gossip – The rumor mill grows in a recession. I’m sure you noticed! Most people wonder what will happen to their organization – whether it will survive, will there be job cuts, will they be outsourced… and when worried people get together, rumors begin. A little bit of information is made to go a long way! Sharing gossip gives temporary comfort that we’re not alone, and that other people are in the same situation. Safety in numbers. Guess what though, the relief is short lived. Rumors, once they start, can have a devastating effect. Worried people slow down their work. Their brainpower is spent worrying, and not working. And when you’re not working productively, guess who managers look at to give the elbow, should it come to that? Worrying and rumors can create a self-fulfiling prophecy! I know it’s hard (believe me, I know!) to not get involved in rumors. But it’s a slippery slope. It’s much better to walk away – don’t even try to argue the opposite case. It’s that simple – walk away.
- Avoiding discussion – no I haven’t gone mad or become forgetful. This is different from being a member of the rumor mill. Avoiding discussion is when you close yourself off to information about the impact of the recession and any changes happening. During a recession, you need more quality information, not less. Changes will happen, so it’s much better to know the context in which they’re happening, mostly to accept them. Talk to your boss, or your Human Resources department. Or any senior manager. Become informed, so you can cope with changes.
- Expecting no change – recession (strangely) always seems unforeseen. This means, well laid plans will change. Funding is withdrawn for projects, people move around, or people go. This is a fact. Expecting no change at all is foolhardy. The way I deal with this is to consider (but not necessarily act upon) all possible changes, and visualize myself having gone through the change. Visualization is a powerful technique!
- Searching for other jobs – people do this for the wrong reasons. Mostly because of one of the above. Apart from the stress and distraction this causes, searching for another job can be a waste of your time if you have no solid reason to. If you find yourself looking at the job sites, think about why. Are your reasons grounded in fact? Are you reasons definite, or just a possibility? Are you acting emotionally?
- Holding out for severence – equally irrational is when people hold on in the belief that their big payout is due. OK, this might happen, but in the mean time you’ll be stressed, anxious and looking for every opportunity to walk. You might just be one of those people who is asked to stay. If severence comes, it comes, but in the meantime focus on your work and contribute to the success of your organization. This will only do your future opportunities and your confidence good in the end!
- Not leaving when the signs are there – not really a counterpoint to the above, but sometimes you just KNOW that your organization is on its knees. Staying around is just pretence. And dangerous for your prospects. When your organization does eventually go under, guess what? There are loads of people from your organization on the job market and you’re in much heavier competition. Is this a risk you want to take?
- Not getting help – this is the biggest mistake to make of all. We can’t all get through recession by ourselves. It’s a tough, stressful time. If you just stew in your own juices, will you make rational decisions? I don’t think so. Getting help is a positive way of gaining control. You need to have a clear head to make rational decisions. It’s much better to get help and not eventually need it, rather than when you’re desperate for it! Have a private word with HR, or talk to a trusted friend, spouse, or coach.
Maybe you recognize some of these behaviors? If you do, then try following my advice. Best of all, get help!