Insight article

Out of the comfort zone

Halloween has come and gone and there may have been more than a few HR people feeling like the Grim Reaper than usual at this year.  Slashing costs and making redundancies is never easy at the best of times – and never more so than now in the knowledge that it won’t be easy for people to find new jobs, particularly in the manufacturing, construction and, dare I say it, corporate finance sectors.

In fact I was at a wedding recently, talking to the Chief Executive of a large and well-known investment management business.  It was the week when Lehman Bros collapsed, AIG was bailed out by the US government and HBOS announced its merger with Lloyds TSB.  This CEO recalled how he was standing in the middle of a room full of investment managers (those who weren’t lined up on the windowsill) amidst the chaos of the markets going crazy, and someone came up to him to ask what was happening and what should they do?  He simply said, “I don’t know.  I don’t have the answers.  I have never seen this before and I hope I never will again.  But we’ll adapt – we have to.”

Since mankind began we have adapted to our changing environment.  We have no choice.  In this world of change, volatility and uncertainty we will need to adapt to the change that so many see as a threat.  Like the CEO I quoted, we don’t have all the answers. But it doesn’t have to be a threat; in fact I think this downturn will do us a favour in sorting the wheat from the chaff.  I’m not saying this in a glib way – it’s all very worrying and we will almost certainly see it impact on colleagues, friends or family.  But I read a newspaper article at the weekend which highlighted the change in direction that some people are taking as a result of being made redundant.  Former corporate financiers are starting afresh in a completely different career.  Budding entrepreneurs who never dared make that leap of faith from the security of their cosy (but perhaps gruelling or meaningless) career have found themselves with no option.   We adapt, we change, we survive.  For those who have to change radically it may mean losing some of their former way of life, but it may just be the making of them – the time to reflect, re-evaluate and move out of the comfort zone into something which actually could change their lives for the better.

Nailia Tasseel