As corona uncertainty continues to rule the workplace
and layoffs, cutbacks and unpaid leave have become a daily reality,
we must all focus on improving our most important asset: ourselves.
By Nili Goldfein and Galit Diamant
For the first time in history since World War 2, billions of employees are experiencing the most powerful waves of uncertainty, as their jobs and welfare are all on the line. In this fragile situation of a shrinking economy, recurring lockdowns and an unknown future, many of these steady taxpayers and family providers are being laid off as we speak, while workplaces continue to execute major cutbacks to survive.
Fearing to lose their positions and livelihood, these talented, hardworking people are now asking themselves what to do to become an indispensable employee. In face of this uncertain era, the only sensible thing to do is to invest in the only existing certainty: ourselves.
Harness your fears for self-motivation
Numerous studies have shown that while exaggerated fear may be paralyzing, a reasonable amount of fear can serve as a secret spice for moving forward. If we apply this notion to what is happening now in the world of work, our fear of uncertainty can serve as a motivating element for enhancing our value to our workplaces, especially in these disruptive times.
The way to do this aligns with the famous quote of futurist Alvin Toffler: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”. In other words, we must all learn how to change, learn to love it and have fun in the process.
To do so, we should willingly let go of old theories, practices, professional habits or mindsets that no longer work for us, and reset our hearts and minds to fall in love with change. For many of us this will not come easily, and until the love of change will sink in naturally, we will have to fake it till we make it, proactively.
The responsibility to change is ours, not the organization’s, not our boss’s or the HR’s. They can assist, fund, direct or advise, but we are the engine of our change, and now is the time to take care of ourselves.
This means adopting a D.I.Y developmental approach. Instead of waiting for the HR manager to schedule a professional workshop for you, do it yourself. Explore new, fresh and innovative trends in your profession actively and constantly, find the right place to learn them, and sign up for the workshop independently, whether your organization is funding it or not. By doing so, you are actively reshaping your professional discipline and giving your organization an added value that is crucial in these disruptive times.
Except for tech-oriented professions, to some extent most of us are still reluctant to use new technologies. Avoiding technology is like burying our heads in the sand; be it financial software, remote learning platforms, artificial intelligence or big data, technology is everything and everything is technology. Learning new technologies is not a ‘nice to have’ issue; it’s a reality-driven action to make us fit for the future world, which is already here and much needed in our workplaces. As the old saying goes: “if you can’t beat them, join them”: agree to learn relevant technologies, and then learn to love them.
From early childhood we have been taught by our parents and teachers to be modest and refrain from self-complimenting. For many of us, this has made us feel uncomfortable about sharing our success and achievements with others. However, while chastity is a superior quality in theory, it is clearly dysfunctional in 21st century workplace reality. There is no reason for plain arrogance, but keeping your achievements to yourself won’t get you anywhere. Be brave and enthusiastic: tell colleagues, superiors and friends what you’re good at, or how excited you were to compete a complex task or solve a problem. By doing so, your professional contribution will be noticed and even greatly appreciated.
Today’s world is built on social networks, information and visibility of both brands and people. While vanity is not recommended, understanding our unique value is. Profoundly recognizing who we are, how we differentiate from others and what is our value to our workplace is not only legitimate: it will also help us understand why our boss, and even our boss’s boss, need us.
Be a team player
Finally, the most important factor that can brand you as a professional talent and an indispensable manager in your workplace is team spirit. As today’s complex world is becoming exponentially fast-forward, flexible and transformative – teamwork, compassion and mutual assistance are crucial components that every organization wants to preserve.
Nowadays employee value is measured not by hierarchical ranking but by informal social networks in organizations. In organizations that conduct social measurement, any employee in any profession who devotes time, energy and willingness to help others will be rated and considered a talent.
However, the art of team spirit and giving should also be carefully crafted and balanced. In his seminal bestseller Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success, Professor Adam Grant explored the difference between givers and takers. His research concludes that givers who help others with knowledge, advice, connections or other assistance – are bound to succeed more, on one condition: that the help will not be at the giver’s expense or compromise his or her goals, activities or personal means. In other words: give generously, help others, but don’t lose yourself in the process.