Relaxing at the edge of uncertainty

We’re doing resilience training for several work groups at a company that’s being acquired by a much larger firm. Group leadership was blindsided by the acquisition notice and received little detail except for the anticipated closing date – about 6 months down the track. Nothing was known about the deal structure, workforce redundancy levels, etc. Employees were likely facing many weeks and even months without meaningful data to help them make informed decisions for the organization, for their careers, and for their personal lives. We needed to help them stay resilient, productive, and relaxed at the edge of uncertainty.

To prepare for this critical work, we tapped into our deep experience with career transition coaching. Displaced executives face extended periods during which they need to engage in activities with which they have little experience, like intense career planning and networking. They need to present well in interviews, successfully negotiate offer packages and make high stakes life decisions, all at a time when uncertainty is high and resilience resources are especially low.

With this in mind, we developed and shared with our client’s teams a process to help them stay resilient and successfully navigate the unpredictable times ahead. We’ve workshopped this with the client and created a basic recipe for success amidst long term uncertainty:

  1. It’s temporary! Even though it might feel like it will never end, keep reminding yourself that it won’t last forever.
  2. Take care of yourself first. Maintain or intensify your exercise regimen. Watch your diet and avoid overindulging on food or drink. Get plenty of sleep. Meditate to stay calm and focused.
  3. Don’t make any big decisions right away. Most snap judgements, made when you just don’t know and when emotions are running high, lead to overreactions that won’t serve you well.
  4. Formulate a plan. It may only be an outline at first because you just don’t have enough information. Make it a work in progress. Add more detail as the situation becomes more clear over time.
  5. Focus on what you can control right now. Formulate a success plan that positions your team as a significant – perhaps even indispensable – asset to the acquiring company. Update your LinkedIn profile and resume. Even if you wind up having a seat at the new table, you should always present yourself to the market in the best possible light.
  6. Remain agile and flexible. You may need to think on your feet and act quickly as the pace of change intensifies.
  7. Err on the side of optimism. After you've done everything you can to advance your cause, and put your shoulder to the load, relax! Give yourself credit for work well done. Be hopeful. Expect success.
  8. Remember – It’s temporary! You may have to remind yourself of this, especially if things drag on without clarity. It won’t be long until you’ll be looking back on this experience as a bump in the road!

What do you do to stay resilient in uncertain times?

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