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Coaching Your Way to Career Stability: How to Stay Focused and Flourish During Layoffs and Recession

By Numly - Leadership Coaching Group
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The Great Resignation, followed by mass layoffs, was the reality of 2022. The ongoing economic uncertainty continues to loom, causing anxieties and concerns that go beyond job security and permeate every aspect of life. In such uncertain times, the workforce is stuck in a mode of survival – a mode where the focus is on simply getting one foot ahead of the next and last one day at a time. 

Things are continuing to get more complicated as talks of recession increase in crescendo. The U.S. economy experienced negative growth in 2022. The Business Cycle Dating Committee of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially declared a recession. 

It is clear that the times are tough. And the only way out when the going gets tough is for the tough to get going. 

From Surviving to Thriving – The Need for Career Support

Getting swept away by the doom and gloom of economic downturns and rising anxiety over job prospects or career opportunities in the face of an ongoing recession is normal. However, we have been in a state of constant flux and change for quite some time now. The business economy and work environment, for example, are a shadow of what they were two decades back, isn’t it? Technology isn’t just driving business but changing it as well. 

As the pace of change and volatility continues to accelerate due to events like the pandemic, recession, etc., and organizations struggle to find their balance, anxieties over being quietly fired can make it impossible to stay focused and secure in jobs. 

Since the global economy continues to look gloomy and unpleasant and organizations announce major belt-tightening activities, can there be a shift from survival mode to thriving? Can people think beyond ‘jobs’ and focus on their ‘careers’? Can professional growth and success be achievable goals in this market and economy? What can people do to propel growth when survival seems a tall order?

These things can be achieved if people stay focused on their professional growth, especially during challenging times. Identifying the right measures to stay ahead on their career paths and blocking out any noise that impedes forward movement is crucial. 

The need for the right kind of career support, as such, has never been higher. And the role of coaching in providing the right support cannot be overstated. 

Career Cushioning Leads to Career Building

Often, people jump ship to find jobs in more recession-proof industries during trying economic times. However, the supply of jobs is shrinking, the need for new skills is rising, and rapid digital and technology transformations are further changing the nature of jobs. 

In such a climate, the focus has to move from getting a good job to future-proofing careers. Coaching plays an indispensable role in helping people prepare for an uncertain economy by assisting them in tightening their financial well-being and taking the right actions to keep their jobs secure and their careers moving. 

In such times, employees need to focus on career cushioning – identifying ways to future-proof their careers, upskill their skill sets and identify and also create growth opportunities.

Career cushioning takes people from a reactive to a proactive stance when it comes to their career prospects. The coach and the learner embark on a process of discovery where they identify the routes to help them move ahead on their career paths. 

The focus of career cushioning is to do with identifying ways to make the current situation work for them and creating ways for career progression. The coach and the learner, for example, can assess whether they need to move to a new company and do the same kind of work or stay in the same company and find new responsibilities that are more aligned with career progress. 

Career cushioning is also about having a Plan B ready while working steadfastly on Plan A. Coaches explore career possibilities with learners, help maintain options, and plan for unexpected situations to cushion the landing. Having a dependable backup strategy in place creates a safety net and allows people to calmly flourish in trying times. 

Mitigate Risk Factors – Focus on Skill Development

Amid recessions and layoffs, employees need to mitigate risk factors by becoming hyper-focused on skill development. It can be hard to filter out the noise to identify the exact skill needs. Building the required skill sets also needs consistent effort, which can be a tall order when the economic and work environment is volatile and dynamic.

Leaders come under the scanner here. Leadership styles have had to undergo seismic shifts owing to the changes brought about by a rapidly changing workforce demographic, changes in work models, and the growing proliferation of technology. As increasing psychological safety becomes a primary KPA for leaders, identifying ways to upskill their leadership skillsets to accommodate the changing needs of today’s enterprise needs leadership coaching.

Working with coaches during economic downturns and recession helps people gain complete clarity on their skill needs. Coaches work proactively to identify risk factors and co-creatively come up with measures to reduce these risks. Working with coaches provides a space for discussion and brainstorming to identify the skills that will make one valuable and less likely to be replaced.

Driving Behavioral Shifts 

Prompted by technological, digital, and economic incidents, the world of work has changed indelibly from its previous avatar. While developing technical skills is important, it is the easier part. Identifying the gaps in critical skills is essential to drive employability in today’s work environment. As such, skills such as collaboration, teamwork, empathy, accountability and ownership, non-judgment, creative thinking, and solution-driven mindset, etc., are becoming invaluable. 

Along with this, people also have to become more flexible and agile as the workplace itself changes. Hybrid work, distributed teams, and remote workers operating in the same universe need new skill sets and attitudes. Diverse teams are now a reality and essential for business. Inclusivity is non-negotiable. 

As the workplace dynamics remain in a state of flux, increasing emotional resilience to prevent burnout becomes critical for building career resilience. Coaches become the key medium to drive the shifts necessary to influence behavioral change through constant exploration, discovery, and non-judgmental support. 

Continuous Learning and Dynamic Course Correction

Everything in the world of work is constantly shifting. The technologies that run the place, the processes that make work happen, the supply chains that keep the wheels turning, or the workplace itself – everything is shifting constantly in this environment. 

Volatile environments like we are experiencing today demand a growing focus on continuous learning for lasting confidence, employability, and personal and career growth. Employees need to proactively work on action plans and goals to keep them moving ahead with their coaches. 

Coaches work closely with clients to enable continuous learning. They also facilitate dynamic course correction and make sure that they are creating an environment that is designed for learning and growth. Coaches empower their clients with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to tackle various professional situations effectively.

The Way Forward

We might gaze into foggy crystal balls to predict when the economy will change or the job market will become more reliable. However, the only thing that we do know is that building specific skills and attitudes will be helpful both to individuals and organizations to navigate these uncertain times. 

Harvard Business Review writer Walter Frick states that a downturn is “a high-pressure exercise in change-management…”. To navigate this successfully, one needs to know where to seek help when the pressures of work and life intensify. 

Coaches become invaluable support structures that help people navigate the impacts of these uncertainties. Since everyone can experience the same situation differently, coaches provide expert guidance to make it through change, uncertainty, crisis, or downturn successfully. They are the advisors who help people make the radical shifts needed to drive success in times of crisis and help bolster resilience, agility, and clear decision-making. 

Numly’s Laser Coaching Subscription Program accounts for the dynamic needs of this volatile market and delivers an opportunity to leverage the transformative power of personalized coaching. ICF Certified Expert Coaches provide personalized support to meet your unique needs and circumstances and guide you toward realizing your full professional potential. Fearlessly. 

Connect with us to learn more!

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