Monday, February 2, 2009

Thriving in a Crisis

About two weeks ago, my company just went through a second round of layoffs.  This is happening about six months after we already had one round of layoffs.

Most people in my situation would probably be very concerned right now.  I am not.  I have been through layoffs before, and these are not quite the same.  This round was truly a right sizing of the company.  The company is still profitable and there are very few situations which would cause that to change.  Now, we have not been making as much money as we had forecast a year ago, but the fact is that we are still making money.  This is contrast to my experiences at a former company where we were bleeding cash and were doing everything possible from going under.   That was a pretty miserable experience as there was very little chance of turning that company around.

This is not the same situation.  There is very much some good opportunities for the company and for its employees.   How can I say this?  Some of the best opportunities are created when things look their worse.  One can just look at Warren Buffet's strategy, buy assets when they are distressed.  Right now is a great time to invest in the market if you can buy the right things at the right price.  While it can be scary to double down when things look so awful, those are when the best opportunities arise.

The same is true during layoffs.  For those individuals who step up and do more, the opportunity is great.  During most layoffs, it is not as if the work just disappears.  The work has to get done somehow.  In fact, most of the time, there is more work to do as the company must better execute on a plan if it hopes to return to the "good" times.  During this round of layoffs, I have had to take on much more responsibility.  I had originally come in as the senior Program Manager on the team.  Shortly after the first round of layoffs, I inherited the responsibility of managing the development staff on a temporary basis  It was a responsibility I took reluctantly even though many saw it as a step up (I did not see it as a step up but that is another discussion). After this round of layoffs, I inherited even more responsibility and am now in charge of another development group as well as the entire testing organization.  Along with the additional responsibility came a promotion to a Director level position.   While I would have achieved this promotion in due time, it was much easier to obtain given my additional level of responsibility and the current organization structure.

My career growth has been quite fast and most of that has been through hard work and a good attitude.  But I've been lucky at times because I have been in the middle of turbulent and often difficult situations.   If things do not change, new opportunities are not created.  This is why change is good.   This is why I am not panicking even though my portfolio has taken a huge hit in the last year.  I planned carefully and was prudent when I should have been.  Because of this, I can now take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.


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