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Operate From A Platform Of Faith, Not Fear

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The dreaded words lay-off or pink slip can paralyze you, particularly if you are not a secure or confident professional. These days, the Indian corporate corridors are abuzz with rumours, and these rumours rise to a din during the appraisal season. Often it's the insecure lot that feed the grapevine and even thrive on it because in the process of spreading canaries they find a similar bunch and invent a community. One little rumour gains legs and before you realise, the whole office is swirling with gossip and everyone starts speculating and making their own theories, further mudding the troubled waters. This sets off a spiral where every gesture or every action of senior executives is interpreted against that prism of misinformation and fear dominates the environment. In all this, people get distracted and instead of focusing on their primary job responsibilities, they get demotivated and overall efficiency suffers leaving teams in disarray. Often managers are also groping for information and instead of trying to set the record straight, they impulsively act to guard their own turfs setting off a vicious spiral. If ever you come across this scenario, here are some strategies that you can adopt to ensure that you stay focused on your own game.

Trust Your Leadership
Isn't that why you joined the organisation in the first place? That your top leaders and the brand that your company represents reflect a certain aura and you may have joined precisely for what it stood for. Now if it comes down to trusting the rumor mill vis a vis what the leadership message is, pick the leadership. Letting people go is the last resort of any organisation, and unless its justifiable top leaders never find it easy to let go of their vital resource, people. Unless the leaders have had a past of letting go of people, it usually pays to believe and align yourself with the top. While the organisation does not owe a job for you for a lifetime, top leaders realise that it is easier and cheaper to keep people  performing within an organisation than to hire and onboard fresh talent. Take every juicy bit from the grapevine with a grain of salt.

Examine your track record
If you are a high performer, you need not worry about the buzz around you as your sterling performance is your shield during these turbulent times. It may sound simplistic but nobody fires a consistently good performer. One caution, though, Don't believe your own delusions of grandeur. I have trained some teams where everyone suffers the notion that each one is as good, if not better than the other. How are you strikingly different, or obviously better than your peers? Making that distinction adds aura to your personality and protects you during these moments of upheaval. Are you the extra mile giver or do you give only in as much is given to you?.  Performers who show commitment beyond the call of duty get rewarded even when times are grim. 

Learn as you go
Often a neglected area, even ridiculed, is the notion of self-development. What is the most recent accolade that you can cite that shines in your resume? If you have been resting on your laurels, you are bound to fail. Most people who survive on past glory are most vulnerable when shakedowns happen. Certifications, Executive Management programs and other skills are available at the end of your arm.Today, the world's best universities have opened their classrooms on-line so that their knowledge can spread to all who are eager. To be living in this knowledge era is both exciting and overwhelming. If you don't learn, you can't lead. Knowledge has expiry dates and if you don't relearn and equip yourself each year, then you may as well hope for the best.
Remove the emotive aspects

Remember, "It's only a job". Job Security is a previous century term! In the manufacturing economy, because jobs were concentrated around large plants and supplychains, skilled workers would spend decades in a single place and hence security was relevant. In the knowledge economy, we tend to move where the jobs are moving. Did you not enjoy the job hopping party, every few months when the going was good? Did you not thrive on bidding wars from potential employers and pick the most lucrative offer, when the conditions were in your favour? Then when the belts are being tightened why should you shirk away and complain? You should be able to bet on your skills and it is that confidence that will help you sail through any storms that you face along this journey. The last thing you would want to do, is fight the management, become bitter and resentful and behave immaturely. Your leadership fibre is being tested, if you fall apart, then you are not fit to be a leader. Who wants to hire a fair weather player only!

Prepare a financial plan for contingency
Stuff happens! If ever, you are staring at a situation where you have to plan for the inevitable, make sure you have a financial cushion. Often our deepest fears are linked to finances and wellbeing of family. Have a sufficient cushion to take care of a few months, if your income should dry up. Talk to a financial planner and ensure that you have a contingency plan that can help you go through a transition without upsetting your personal and family equilibrium. If you are young and don't have too many dependencies, you have nothing much to fear, so use your income to build a strong cushion. If you have a working spouse, then it is important that you both plan together to deal with a disruption in income or a jobloss which may happen to either of you. There is no such thing as a permanent job, unless you are the founder of a company. So be prepared, stay grounded and you can weather any storm.

Sunil Robert is a global executive and an author

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