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How to survive and thrive if your company downsizes

How to survive and thrive if your company downsizes


By Sean Power And SANDRA D'Amico


Make sure you are first in line to keep your job if your company downsises by staying focused on doing your job well.

Companies in Cambodia - just like everywhere else - are facing difficult economic conditions this year.

Consumers have stopped buying and investors have stopped investing. Many companies are responding by cutting their costs. In some cases, this may involve reducing staff numbers through job losses (which is sometimes called "downsizing").

When a company announces job cuts, it can be a difficult and stressful time for everyone involved - for the managers who make the decision, for the employees who lose their jobs and even for the employees who are lucky enough to keep their jobs.

As an employee, your first priority is to be one of the lucky ones who keep their job. While there isn't a lot you can do about it, there are a few basic things you can do to increase your chances of surviving when a company wields the ax. Stay focused on doing your job well, make yourself indispensable by taking on important duties or developing skills that nobody else has, and build good relationships with managers and decision-makers.

Keeping your job is the hard part - but it is not the end of the story. It can be surprisingly difficult for those who hold onto their jobs to adjust to the new working environment and to get on with their work. Many "survivors" become distracted, unhappy and stressed in the weeks and months after their colleagues lose their jobs.

Make a real effort to stay positive and behave professionally

So, as a survivor, what can you do to stay focused and happy in your job?

The first thing to do is be supportive of your colleagues who have lost their jobs. Provide them with some encouragement and advice. If you know the person quite well, make an effort to stay in touch with them over the next few weeks. Perhaps arrange to meet them for lunch.

Also, make a real effort to stay positive and behave professionally. Many companies are not very good at announcing job losses. As a survivor, you may feel some resentment about how management has handled the whole process. While these feelings are understandable, avoid the temptation to play the "blame game".

Don't openly criticise the people who are responsible for the job losses. This isn't going to get your former colleagues their jobs back. It is more likely to create a poisonous and destructive working environment.

Instead of focusing on the negatives, recognise that office morale might need a boost and do something positive about it. Perhaps arrange a team lunch or a social event.

If the process hasn't been communicated very well, don't be afraid to ask your manager what all this means for your own job security. For example, are more job cuts likely if business doesn't pick up soon? Your manager may not be able to give you any guarantees, but at least you will have a better understanding of the situation.

If you are worried that you might eventually lose your own job, then try to control your own destiny. Have a plan of action ready in the event you lose your job. Would you go back to full-time study? Would you consider a career change? Which employers would you approach? Perhaps now is a good time to build up your skills with part-time study. If you are genuinely worried about losing your job, then don't make any major financial commitments for the time being, such as buying a new house or motorbike.

While it is good to be prepared, don't become obsessed by the prospect of losing your job. You can't be looking over your shoulder all the time, waiting for the ax to fall on you. Don't interpret every word or action by your manager as some kind of sign that you are about to lose your job. Try to stay positive and confident.

Finally, stay focused on your own work performance. Do your job well, support your team members and work towards the company goals.

Sean Power is a consultant to HRINC, one of Cambodia’s leading HR services firms, and Sandra D’Amico is the managing director. Contact [email protected] for more information.


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