Friday, September 18, 2009

Layoff Survivors: Too Depressed to Really Work

Do you know one? Are you one? Then, you know how it feels. People who have not been laid off feel angry, exploited, and  stuck. They feel bad for their friends who have been laid off and don’t know how to help. They may be doing the work of two or three people without reward or acknowledgement. Managers distance themselves and are afraid to communicate. Colleagues don’t make decisions because they are afraid to be wrong. Everyone waits for the next shoe to drop. In the meantime, productivity drops, and business goals aren’t met.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. We’ve had enough experience with layoffs to know better. Just look at David Noer’s book, Healing the Wounds. Noer gives lots concrete examples of how to handle layoffs well. Doug Adams and I wrote a “toolkit for managers” called The Challenge of Change for Fleet Bank in the mid-1990s, which is full of ideas for managers to use to decrease the impact of downsizing. Once I figure out how to do it, I'll post pages from it. Please help me if you can!

If you are a layoff survivor, here are some simple things you can to do to stay motivated and keep your career on track:
1. Actively manage your stress.  Exercise, meditate, get medical help if you need it. Leave work at 5:30.
2. Learn something new. Take a class or a course. Get a friend to coach you in a new skill that will give you a boost.
3. Look for assignments that expand your job. What new assignment or what can you volunteer for that will look good on your resume?
4. Take care of yourself so that as things turn around, you will be in a position to move.

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