Monday, June 19, 2000

The Success Coach

Dealing with a changing job

By Michael A. Crom
Gannett News Service

        Question: My company recently was bought out by a Japanese company, and everything is changing. No one knows if we'll have jobs tomorrow, and if we do, no one knows what they'll look like. We know we've lost our autonomy, which is hard enough, but we're all afraid we may have lost our livelihoods, too. — Amanda.

        Answer: Life in the business world is rarely easy. Sometimes, when we use the tactic of trying to figure out the worst that can happen, we realize that the worst is very hard to live with. We become frightened of the dramatic changes we imagine we might face.

        Interestingly, people who have faced the worst life can offer often are better for it. A man who had been a POW in Vietnam — certainly among the worst disasters a job can bring upon an individual — did a survey of other POWs and found that these men were healthier and happier than other Vietnam veterans. Many had turned to religion, but they all realized they had survived the worst life could offer.

        As these men and countless other people have found there are methods to survive the ultimate job stress. Try these tactics:

        • The most important strategy during a difficult time is to avoid being overly emotional. Certainly any potentially major change in our life brings up a variety of emotions. However, too often we let those emotions take on a life of their own. For example, I recently was in a meeting where a division of a large company was being bought out by its top management. The executives mentioned that they would be keeping the benefit level the same, at great personal expense. However, several people in the room were so distraught that they didn't hear this. Following the meeting, they immediately began to worry and complain about the loss of their benefits.

        • Instead of panicking, put that energy into getting more information. Ask every question you can think of. Find out what others have done in similar situations. Find out what has happened at other companies taken over by your new “parent.” Also take a personal assessment of what you can do if your worst fears are realized - what are the opportunities in your community for your function, what other jobs are you qualified for, etc.

        • Negotiate the halftime of your life. Bob Buford, a successful television executive, wrote a book, saying that in the first half of your professional life, you look for success. If you get through this, you start to look at what's truly important. You create a focus and a mission for yourself.

        For example, Mr. Buford decided he'd had enough of personal success and instead began using his many business skills to help large churches. Perhaps you have a dream or desire that you could move toward if you find yourself out of a job.

        • Use all the stress management tools to get through each minute of each day. When you catch yourself obsessing about the negative, remember to count your blessings — your family, your health, your talents. You need to just read a news magazine to realize you have it much better than many of the world's citizens. And use day-tight compartments whenever possible. Concentrate on your work for the moment. You will feel better about yourself if you accomplish something.


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