Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CLUES Worried about job security?

This edition is about keeping yourself and your people calm when jobs are under threat

Are you feeling secure in your job? How about your partner? Or your children or parents or friends?

And what about your team? Your colleagues? Your boss?

On the basis of reports about the predicted increase in unemployment rates over the next year or two, the fallout from the GFC (global financial crisis) shows little sign of easing.

Stimulus payouts and other Government initiatives may provide some financial assistance in the short term but will do little to ease the day to day anxiety, stress and uncertainty that many people feel as they go to work wondering: “Will I still have my job tomorrow?”

Have you seen it all before?

For some CLUES readers, you have lived through periods of recession when redundancies were prolific. And we hoped we would never see the likes of, for example, the early 1990’s, again.

But if we do have to go through it again, we must hope that organisations learn from those past experiences and remember that making large numbers of people redundant often ripped out the organisational heart and deleted large chunks of corporate memory.

Redundancies may deliver a short term financial solution but is false economy if past experience is anything to go by. In the long term not only can they can significant impede capacity to compete swiftly again once the economy improves but in the short term the impact on morale and productivity can be significant and self-defeating.

The same applies when training programs are cut out.

Or is this your first time?

For other CLUES readers, aged under 35, this is new territory. After over 25 years of strong economic times, of abundance, growth and wealth, the global economy has gone through an unprecedented negative turnaround.

Consequently even though you may have been told your job is safe, uncertainty and worries about job security are likely to lurk in your back of your mind and niggle at you.

If you haven’t been re-assured and are seeing your workforce being reduced, these worries will be front of mind.

If you were reassured that jobs were safe but saw people lose their jobs anyway, then not only will the trust factor have plummeted but it’s going to be hard to contain your anxiety levels and still perform well – thus increasing your anxiety and so the vicious cycle goes on.

For an even younger group of people (teens and under 25), used to change as a way of life, the GFC has brought a whopping lifestyle modification with it. For many, gone are the days of extravagant living and job-hopping, of being able to pick, choose and change jobs at will.

Holding on to the job you’ve got is now the name of the game for many young Australians. At the very least they are concerned for their friends.

Managing the people around you

The Almond Effect® is when our brains activate the flight/flight mode for the wrong reasons. We are not about to die but as our amygdala can’t tell the difference between a physical threat and a psychological threat to our survival it sets off its armies of adrenaline, hormones and other chemicals to enable us to repel the threat or get well away from it.

So if despite assurances or logical analysis, our amygdalae sense a threat to job security and/or the need to keep performing well to hold on to a job, be prepared for increased stress and anxiety levels which, unless managed, will impede performance anyway.

Your best approach is to look for signs of the flight/fight mode in yourself and the people around you. Then you can deal with it.

What you might see

Here are some examples of the kinds of behaviours you might see:

* Unanswered phones
* Increased conflict and disputes
* Sharp barbed responses
* Lethargy
* Increased gossiping
* Martyr like behaviour
* People coming to work when they are sick
* Fun has gone
* Reduced motivation
* Busyness increases but strategic thinking diminishes
* Lack of focus
* Inability to concentrate or retain information
* Short temperedness
* Lack of confidence
* Not taking on new challenges
* Not taking holidays

A free ebook of Strategies for Success from Leading Experts in Personal and Professional Development is yours if you send me your examples of The Almond Effect® in your life at work or at home Click here

What to do about it?

When people are anxious they need the truth. Without honest information, people fill the vacuum with fears and concerns. They also need an opportunity to share their anxieties even if you have to supportively coax that out of them.

What does NOT work is avoid talking about the situation, lying or fudging the truth or trying to maintain a ‘she’ll be right’ attitude.

So here are some tips:

* Share information – keep people up to date with what you know. And it’s better to over communicate than not share enough. It’s rare that an employee will tell you to stop talking to them about what’s going on.

* Acknowledge concerns and create opportunities to discuss them either one on one or in person. Don’t brush this ‘under the carpet’.

* Look for the warning signs (like those above) that people are stressed or anxious. They might deny it but amygdalae don’t shut off just because we want to hide our feelings.

* Consult with your people about how to handle situations and challenges. Not only will they probably have great ideas but it also dampens down The Almond Effect and shows that you value their input.

* Lead by example and stay positive. This means using your STAR skills (Stop-Think-Act-Rewire). Remember that emotions are contagious.

* Stick to your values – personal and organisational. People will pick up inconsistencies in a heartbeat and that ignites The Almond Effect.

* Keep yourself fit, stay calm and eat properly. Get rid of your own excess adrenaline and stress hormones. Walk, run, swim, play football – whatever works for you, just use up those fight/flight chemicals that are hanging around in your bloodstream. As the safety demonstration on planes tell us- look after yourself first so that you can help others.

* Educate your people about The Almond Effect® and what to do about it. Click here to contact Anne about how she can help you do this.

"If you want to be impressed with a depth of expertise, stimulated by new understanding about yourself and leadership and entertained, then Anne should be top of your list.

The impact of her presentation has lived on beyond the day. Some of our leaders are experimenting with her ideas and concepts, especially in the context of strengthening positive relationships with their staff and having some new tools to help with tough issues. Tim Robinson, Executive Manager Corporate Support, Fairfield City Council”