I once worked with an organization where people started vanishing. Some of it was planned. A few moved on to bigger and better things. The vast majority, however, were being laid off, one at a time, so for a while, it was drip, drip, drip.
During times like that, you don’t immediately realize that the work starts piling up for those who remain. In the moment, you get a sense of “survivor’s guilt.”
“Wow, all these people who used to sit in these chairs are not here anymore. They are out of a job.”
You feel a little guilty that you are still employed. Until you start to become stressed and burned out because of all the extra work that you are doing. Then, those sorrowful feelings turn into a kind of resentment. “The lucky ones got out, and I’m stuck doing all this work.”
That may be true. There will be a lot of additional work to do and fewer people to help get it done. However, to get through it, you will need to make a few adjustments, mostly to your attitude.
The habit of blaming things on burnout when you’re the arsonist is just not appropriate. It’s like writers who complain about writer’s block and fail to acknowledge that one of the best ways to solve that, is to write.
Here are three tips to keep in mind. Set your ego aside and pay attention to warning signs; otherwise, you may flameout.
Beware of the three donkey day. Over the course of your day, if you come across three separate people who are being particularly nasty to you, it’s time to do a little self-reflection. Because it is probably you who is being the jackass. Step back and take an objective look.
Attitudes are contagious, and you want to make sure you are catching the right one. It is very tempting to feed into negative things that are going on around you. Avoid that. Find people who are positive, who are finding the silver linings. Sometimes it might mean going outside of your work environment. That’s okay, look where ever you have to find that great attitude. To help, think about the three to five people you might want to start hanging around with more often.
The power question. Ask a coworker, “What’s the one thing I can do for you that will most help make a positive difference?” You might be thinking, “What? I have to take on another thing? I can’t do that.” One, you can. Two, it is something that will make a positive difference to them. By reaching out and helping someone else, you are going to feel better. And you might stop complaining about things.
We are capable, as human beings, of handling an awful lot of genuine hardship. Our minds are built for problem-solving, not whining. So, if you keep that perspective, you will be able to get through the rough periods of doing more with less.
Also published on Medium.