Originally published in the News Star and the Shreveport Times on Sunday, November 20, 2016.
Question: I just got told everyone at my work with my job description is being let go. I have worked at this place for a very long time and looking for work elsewhere scares the you-know-what out of me. But I can’t retire yet. I have to work. What do you suggest?
Answer: There is no security in security.
In my work I regularly meet people who have discovered (to their great surprise) that the big corporation they thought would see them through to the end…didn’t.
So. You can get bitter or get better. I honestly don’t think you can do both at the same time. So let’s focus on getting better.
One of the upsides to downsizing is that it gives you (or forces on you!) the opportunity to reassess your attitudes towards yourself, your work and how those two things relate.
You’ve discovered the hard way the danger of dependency. The more dependent you become the more vulnerable you are. As much as I believe that, I don’t want you to take it too far. While dependency is not a healthy state of being, neither is in-dependency. Both are (in my opinion) unhealthy extremes.
The attitude I recommend is inter-dependency. Interdependency is a mind-set of cooperative contribution. The problem with isolation or independence is there is no synergy – no multiplication of effort. The beauty of interdependency is that it draws out competence from everyone, yet produces a result not possible by any one individual or even group of individuals.
Interdependency is multiplication, not just addition.
What does interdependency have to do with you overcoming downsizing? A great deal, I think.
Your greatest job security in today’s workplace is to remain valuable and relevant.
To be that person, you’ve got to have a core competence in your field, whether it is engineering, computer science, materials management or selling furniture. But core competence is just your price of admission to get a job interview.
Beyond that, you want to be The Person Everyone Wants to Hire.
You’ll separate yourself from the crowd if you prove yourself to be an interdependent person of character, communication and creativity.
Character. Coach John Wooden said, “Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are. The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”
Interdependent people are trusted by their peers because they have demonstrated their character.
Communication. This is not only about speaking or writing well. It is actually mostly about listening well. As Stephen Covey said, seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Interdependent people focus on understanding their coworkers and so communicate clearly and effectively.
Creativity. Creativity connects the previously unconnected in new ways. The creative coworker does not despise convention, but neither does he revere it. She asks “why?” and “why not?” a lot.
Interdependent people encourage and coax creativity from within themselves and their coworkers, looking for solutions in new places and are willing to work hard to find them.
I’m sorry you got downsized. It hurts and radical change like that is usually painful.
But now it’s up to you to decide if this downsizing will overwhelm you, or if you will overcome it.
Be an overcomer.
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