Weathering the storm during troubling times

​Troubling times are an inevitability.

​The other day, one of the businesses I am involved in had to make a major decision that resulted in layoffs.  As with all troubling times, a great deal of uncertainty and fear rears its ugly head amongst workers at all levels.  This particular organization, however, handled it quite well by keeping communication open.  It also concerned itself with the well-being of those that were most affected by these changes.

I have been fortunate enough to not be on the receiving end of such difficult news, but I have had to deliver it.  It is never an easy time, and the best one can hope for is that the company is in a position to provide a safety net for the worker(s).  Maybe you are not in a position to make decisions like this, but knowledge is power.

What does it mean?

​Companies may refer to an event like this as any number of terms including: downsizing, rightsizing, layoffs, organizational restructuring, and many more.  Essentially, the company has decided that some of the workers are either no longer needed, or can no longer be supported.  While this sounds very cold, most business owners and decision makers do not make these decisions lightly.  I have worked at some organizations that have held out for as long as possible, offering everything from furloughs, to salary cuts, before making staffing changes.

​The danger in a situation like this, however, is the possibility of holding on too long.  What if the damage is irreparable?

​Yeah, but what about MY troubling times?

​No one wants to be the one impacted by these tough decisions.  Business owners are responsible for the lives of the workers, as well as the life of the business.  You could have everyone in the organization be an all-star, but someone will still need to be cut from the team.  By no means am I saying that you do not have a right to be upset or complain.  You have every right to feel the emotions that you do.  The only options we have in times of good and times of bad is to do our best to mitigate the risk.

​Mitigate, how?

​There are many different areas we should focus on.  One of the companies I work with is an IT Services organization.  One thing that comes to mind is a Disaster Recovery (DR) and Business Continuity (BC) plan.  A DR strategy is part of your BC Plan, but it essentially comes down to the following points:

  • ​BC is the plan that gets put in place once things go wrong
    • This is a proactive plan for when resources (money, ability, people, etc.) are lost or no longer able to provide the same services or outcomes.
  • DR is how you plan to restore the “systems” you had in place before the event.
    • In IT this typically relates to documentation and data backups.

​To apply this differently, swap a few words and end up with something like this:

  • BC is the plan you have for continuing your lifestyle.
    • You may have to adjust things down in terms of spending, or make cuts wherever possible.  Ideally you have built up some kind of emergency fund to protect yourself for a period.
    • This may also be helped if your organization offers severance, though not always possible if things are already in a major financial bind.
  • DR is your plan to get back on your feet.
    • Maybe start that business you have been thinking about
    • Call up your friends and see if anyone is looking for someone with your unique set of skills.

Many people throughout history have found accidental success as a result of shifting careers, or downsizing.  It is worth noting, however, that it is still something you will need to process.  This processing may take some time, but don’t force yourself to rush through your emotions.  Take your time, regroup, and then get to it.  Reach out to me if you have any questions.


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