Coping With Aftermath of Layoffs at Your Firm

The Wall Street Journal

Relief, guilt, grief and fear are all typical feelings of employees are left behind in an office after a wave of layoffs. It’s easy to get mired in the emotions; it takes deliberate thought and action to manage in the workplace after colleagues have been laid off. “To be a survivor you have to act like one,” says Janet Banks, an executive coach in Boston. “People who survive difficult experiences and economic times are able to do so because they can imagine a time when things will change for the better,” she says. Here’s how to cope and position yourself in the office after a round of layoffs.

Confirm new business priorities. Not only do the number of employees change after a layoff, but often the direction of the business and the importance of various projects also change. Check in with managers at least one or two levels above you to find out what the highest priority work is now, says Mark Phelps, a senior consultant at Development Dimensions International, a Pittsburgh human-resources firm. Ask for detailed descriptions of your new responsibilities, especially if you’ve taken on the work of a former colleague.

Take initiative. Now is the time to get out of your comfort zone at work and stretch yourself. At a time when there are fewer people to do work, “look for projects and raise your hand for new assignments that need to be done,” says Mr. Phelps. Managers will see you as someone who is willing to go the extra mile. You might also open yourself up to other opportunities by taking on new projects or picking up new skills.

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