Invested in Your Job or Just Doing It? 7 Acts of Ownership | Embracing Crises

crisis 7836782464_fd003c0198_mSome days our jobs feel mundane. The work has become repetitive, our colleagues predictable, and our roles unchanging. Our don’t-rock-the-boat boss gives us less and less room to be creative or engaged beyond our daily tasks.

When this happens, it’s tempting to just put your nose to the grindstone, follow the job description to the letter, and lower your career expectations.

Deep down, you know this strategy isn’t good for you.

It’s your job, so work it.

Remember how important it was to get your job and the effort it took? Whether your job is one of a kind or one of many, it’s a specific area of the business that’s in your care. The way you perform matters.

If your job weren’t important, the company wouldn’t be willing to pay you for it. While your job description states the duties, you, personally, bring your standards, commitment, and honor to the work.

Recently, some terrible tragedies have been in the news. In the U.S., there was a devastating hurricane and an unfathomable mass shooting of elementary school children and their educators.

No first responder or school teacher has a job description that includes duties to perform when threats to human life fall upon him/her in enormous and unanticipated scale.

Most of us don’t have to face life and death situations in our jobs. But there are situations that we won’t/can’t tolerate–circumstances that call us to action.

It might be:

  • Bullying, bias, or discrimination of coworkers
  • Business decisions based on faulty or incomplete information
  • Product defects, known or suspected
  • Unsafe equipment or procedures
  • A sudden calamity in your work area, a stricken coworker, or destructive weather

When we’re faced with such situations, we discover how invested we are in our jobs based on the actions we take.

7 intervening actions

Owning our jobs in a crisis is not about being a hero or heroine. It’s about responding in ways that align our strengths and capabilities with  needs.

The teacher who steps in front of a gunman to protect her students and the first responder who wades through waist-deep water to save a life follow an inner drive compatible with the calling that drew them to their jobs.

We have a calling too. You may know today how far you would go to intervene in a crisis while others of us may not know until we’re in that crisis moment.

Here are 7 actions to consider. One or more may be what you’d be prepared to do:

  1. Step forward–Take charge; lead others; put fear aside and do what you believe is right
  2. Buy time–Deflect incoming negatives; implement stop-gap measures; negotiate options
  3. Steady the ship–Follow established procedures/protocols; create stability through regimen; reduce panic by reliance on routine
  4. Provide comfort–Keep a cool head; settle others using calm counsel; meet the emotional and physical needs of others; rally optimism
  5. Gather forces–Foster collaboration; collect and share input needed for decision-making; engage others able to help; create community
  6. Test solutions–Pilot test potential remedies; get feedback; fine-tune the fixes; build on successes; capture lessons learned
  7. Communicate relentlessly–Develop and deliver credible messages; keep everyone in the loop; listen and address questions/concerns; reduce the stress of not knowing

I’ve always felt like I owned the responsibilities stated or unstated in my jobs. If I saw a workplace injustice, I spoke up and then tried to do something about it. When people were upset about major workplace changes, I offered perspectives that would help ease the worry.

We all have some kind of help to offer in a crisis.

Embrace the moment

All crises are not created equal. No matter how big or small, when things go wrong, those affected are off-balance, fearful, uncertain, and even confused. That’s probably you too. But you have a chance to embrace the situation in your own way, using your skills and instincts to help fix things.

Please take a moment to think about your job and your investment it. What do you think you’d do in a crisis? I suspect it will be something very good.

Photo from mycos2012 via Flickr

The Unexpected Career Crisis–Got the Stuff to Survive It? | 4 Essential Steps

There’s no escaping problems. They show up whether we’re ready or not.  Smart businesses have crisis management plans so they know what to do when calamity hits. So shouldn’t we?

I was invited to review Jim Moorhead’s new book, The Instant Survivor: Right Ways to Respond When Things Go Wrong, concurrent with its release. The advice and insights are terrific!

Gone are the cradle to grave careers. Routine upheaval is more the norm than ever before.

We start our careers with great optimism and then experience a shot of reality. We soon discover success depends on our ability to survive the curve balls that come our way.

The art of surviving

Jim Moorhead’s book looks at what we need to do when faced with the unexpected. His 4-step system for conquering professional and personal crises takes the essence of a business crisis management plan and turns it into a survival kit for us. The Instant Survivor puts the control back in our hands.

If you think that crisis will skip over you, Moorhead shares innumerable, fascinating and true stories about people like:

  • Robin Roberts, ABC’s co-anchor on Good Morning America, who publicly faced her breast cancer
  • Terry Francona, professional baseball manager, who navigated career highs and devastating lows, eventually winning the World Series twice with the Boston Red Sox
  • Michael Dell, who, at 27 went from having his company on Fortune 500’s “Best of the Top 500″ list to a stock plunge that nearly ruined the company

The crises we face are just as significant to us, and we need to know how to fight  through them.

4 Survival Steps

Problems can’t get solved until we start solving them. A simple process makes it easier to get going. Moorhead recommends these four steps in “Instant Survivor”:

1. Stay Frosty

Instead of staying calm (which is always easier said than done), Moorhead tell us to move forward calmly  while “freezing out negative emotions of fear, anger, and bitterness.”

He says to sort things out objectively:

Develop a crisis management plan with three stages:

  • Diagnosis (What’s the problem?)
  • Action (What can I do?)
  • After-Action Report (What did I do well and what could I improve?)

He tells us that being self-focused  is the way we can “stay frosty.”

2. Secure Support

It’s tempting to withdraw when a crisis catches us off guard. We may feel embarrassed, ashamed, and hurt–emotions we don’t want to air in front of others. Trying to shoulder a crisis alone is the wrong tactic. Support is essential. Moorhead says,

You can survive and even thrive by denying national and worldwide crises. Yet there is one crisis, whether current or incoming, that you cannot deny. Your crisis. You cannot deny it, and you must take immediate action to deal with it. Because if you don’t, no one will.

The support of others empowers us to lead our way out of the crisis effectively.

Moorhead reminds us that before we’re in a pickle, we need to create a crisis management team (professionals, friends, and business associates) that we can call into action at a moment’s notice.

3. Stand Tall

We need to get a grip on our next moves and that means crafting a written plan. Moorhead emphasizes the importance of getting your proposed actions down on paper and managing your way out of the crisis

He emphasizes the need to be flexible, monitor your progress, and maintain momentum. It’s your plan to turn your crisis around, so you need to own it proudly. He gives you a terrific set of questions to keep you on the right track and standing tall.

4. Save Your Future

Every crisis is a fabulous learning experience. Moorhead’s book is filled with inspiring stories of every magnitude.

He writes about what to do after the crisis is past:

Choose to build a different, brighter future.

  • Your past does not dictate your future–unless you let it.
  • Use calamity to gain clarity on what you want in life.
  • Give meaning to your disaster by helping others through theirs.
  • A life comeback is possible from any depth.

Surviving is a brand

Moorhead ends reminding us that what we do to survive and how we do it contribute to our brand identity. I’m sure you’ve heard people say, “Look at Pat, s/he’s a real survivor.”

There’s a survivor in all of us. We can either make it easy on ourselves or difficult. The Instant Survivor is your leg up.