Q: Some things are at flux at work, and I'm nervous. We've lost some business, and there have been changes at other clients that could affect their corporate direction, thus, their need for our services. What should I be doing to look out for myself? I'm not interested in a major career change.
A: Think carefully about what you want, and your company's ability to provide it.
The inner game
Recognize that you're nervous, but stay away from panic mode. That could cause you to miss the opportunities in the situation and make some hasty decisions that won't serve you well. To manage the fear, reflect on what you're afraid of. Is it change? Financial vulnerability? Use your breath to help get centered so that you can gain a deeper understanding. And consider how realistic your fears are in light of the changes you're seeing.
Now consider the assets you bring to your current job … or a potential future opportunity. This will help you solidify your confidence while also preparing you to reach out to others.
Then consider what you'd like to be doing. Would you like to keep doing the same type of work, but for a different account? Or perhaps there are opportunities in a somewhat new direction within your field. If you aren't sure, think it through and also talk to others who are doing slightly different things to see if they'd be appealing, as well as a feasible next step given your background. Create a vision of the directions your future could go.
The outer game
First and foremost, maintain your performance. It can be easy to slip a little if you're anxious, but that'll definitely limit your opportunities.
Think of the current time period as a runway to your next step. The next step could be continuation, or it could be change. Either way, you're at an advantage because you have time to think about options and prepare.
Using your vision for the future, start gathering information. If you haven't talked to your boss about your concerns, now may be a good time. This could either allay your concerns or let him/her know that you're looking forward if the concerns are realistic. Of course, if you don't have a trusting relationship with your boss, be careful how much you share.
Start asking around about opportunities. If you like your company and you think it's stable, pay attention to openings and build relationships with people in areas of interest. If you're concerned about the company's viability, start considering other options. Get your résumé updated so that you can respond quickly if needed.
If you have found that your skills are too narrow, use this time to broaden them, or become more current if you are a bit out of date.
Finally, take care of yourself. Manage your emotions, eat right, get exercise, and have fun. Plan for the financial impact if you were to be unemployed. Have someone to vent to, but if you start to burn them out, consider if you need support from a coach or counselor.
The last word
Remain positive and engaged in your future to manage through the uncertainty.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, leadership coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.