How to Stay Relevant in Work Amid the Crisis

It’s been a while since my last post in this blog and I was actually trying to refrain from writing something about the current (COVID-19) situation, but something has tickled me to write this post. So I met this old friend of mine in a recent virtual event. We had a chat afterward where he told me about how he’s always “unlucky” with his career and the company he chose to work. I’m quite surprised as I understand that he’s currently living quite a good life, but hey maybe I didn’t know all the details…

He began his story with the first company he joined after graduated from university, it was a luxury goods manufacturing company where majority of the goods are exported to USA. He worked there for quite some times and everything looked fine until economy crisis hit USA in 2008, and since the company really depended on their exports to USA (and the people there didn’t have money to spend for luxury goods) they also impacted by the situation, and the path the company chose to overcome the crisis was retrenchment. While my friend was actually saved from the exercise done by the company but not his boss, therefore my friend’s responsibility was added to ensure business continuity.

Few years later he got an opportunity to move to another company, this time was an European company with one of biggest office is in this region which also served as the hub for Asia-Pacific. Again, everything seems to be happily ever after until one day the parent company informed the staffs that the company has not making any profit for 3 years in a row hence they appointed a new CEO to make it on track again. One of the thing that the new CEO did to save the company was selling off the Southeast Asia business and move the Asia-Pacific hub to another region. My friend was leading the operation migration project to that country and was offered to relocate as well once everything has moved, but he chose to stay in the country and leave the company when the relocation job is done.

And here he is in his current company, things look perfect until COVID-19 came. And just like any other company his company is also having crisis and needs to do something to stay relevant. Thanks to early response from the management the company now seems to be heading back to the right track with hope to reap the result of their hard work when things are going back to normal.

The story now has twisted from “how unlucky my friend was” to “what made him stay relevant in his work” (and even ride the wave of changes) despite the unfortunate situations that he faced in every company that he worked with. He told me there are at least 6 things that made him where he is now.

  1. Attitude
    Skills is one thing but attitude is everything. Even in normal circumstances most company will choose attitude over skills.
  2. Mindset
    You need to have the right mindset to be successful and stay relevant. Be open minded is a good start. Next steps is to have growth and outward mindset. Having a growth mindset can make us to become resilient, and successful, while outward mindset shifts the self-focus to collective goals and results.
  3. Willingness to learn
    The world is moving so fast. No one has predicted that only in the span of few years many jobs in the world has been made obsolete due to innovations and technology. The same goes to career, you can’t expect to get promotion if you have never upgraded yourself and only do what you are currently doing.
  4. Flexible/Adaptable
    Charles Darwin once said “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” So be flexible and adapt to the change. No further explanation is needed.
  5. Performance
    Put everything you have into good performance. No one will see you unless you give them something to see, but don’t overdo it.
  6. Leading through the crisis
    Last but not least, if you are a leader you need to be more than just capable to manage and respond to the crisis, you need to lead through the crisis. It means that while you are making sure that your organization can survive the crisis, in parallel you need to also look ahead and invest/prepare to grab the opportunity that lies ahead the crisis.

Just like coffee, your career and values can’t be developed overnight. You need to build it, there is no shortcuts

Muhammad Suhada, 2019

I remembered I once wrote the above quotes on my LinkedIn. I think my friend is a living proof of that statement of mine.

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