Who will be most promotable after the recession

As the recession grinds on you have a choice to make. If you look carefully among all the whiners and worriers you will see the opportunists. They are the people who are quietly building their portfolio of skills and abilities…poised for the next big uptick. When it happens they will be ready. Will you?
We can learn a lot from these opportunists. Let’s examine what they are doing to see how you compare:
  • Say, “How can I help,” instead of, “Why do I have to do that?”
If your company has downsized it doesn’t mean the work has decreased along with the headcount. During times of stress people show what they are really made of and their manager and others take note. So, if you are willing to shoulder more responsibility, stay later to finish a task or willing to step up in other ways, it will position you for a brighter future when the sun comes out.
  • Finish your degree or take continuing education classes to upgrade your skills and qualifications.
When the economy picks up and hiring heats up why not be more qualified, so you can take advantage of the opportunities? If you’ve set your sites on a role in management you probably will need at least a bachelor’s degree so what are you waiting for? If your computer skills aren’t what they should be, enroll in class. If you need to improve your leadership skills, hire a coach.
  • Network as if your career depended on it, even if you are feeling secure in your job right now.
Even if your position doesn’t seem at risk, don’t be lulled into a complacent attitude. I hear people say things such as, “At least I’m safe in my job right now,” and then a few weeks later the company is acquired by someone else and all bets are off. You can spot the opportunists—they are the ones volunteering for the program committee in their professional organization so they can meet the who’s who; they are reaching out to colleagues on social networks, they are lunching with their contacts at least once a week.
  • Bury the hatchet and play nice with others.
Now is not the time to be seen as high maintenance. How you get along with others will weigh in more heavily when decisions have to be made about cut backs. If you have a reputation for needing more supervisor intervention or oversight you are on the short list when the axe falls. So suck it up and get along.
  • Solve problems, don’t complain about them or demand resources.
During times like these, the popular things to do are either to hunker down until the resources—headcount and money—start to flow again; or claim they can’t do what’s asked of them until they get more resources. There are few people—those opportunists--who demonstrate the brilliance of finding clever solutions when resources are scarce. For example, they might pool resources across departments, or partner with a university to get a job done.
  • They get their personal finances in order.
If you are burdened with too much debt, you will feel imprisoned by your job. And if you are feeling desperate about staying employed it colors your decision-making ability. It can tamp down risk taking to the point where you will not speak up when you know you should, or you’ll look the other way rather than tackle a tough problem for the good of the company. And if you feel you can’t leave your job for a new opportunity because it means unknown risk, it can trap you into a future shaped by safety rather than possibility. Ironically, people in self-protection mode tend to stand out—and not for the right reasons.
Are you an opportunist? Have you been hiding from the risks or thinking about ways to exploit the opportunity that exists right now?

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616, mailto:info@joanlloyd.com, or www.JoanLloyd.com 
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