I grew a design team to 10 during the dotcom boom in the 90s/00s and then company layoffs reduced my team to just 2 when things imploded. Let me share with you a few things I learned.
✢ You will be OK. I promise.
Some of you have already been laid off, perhaps more of you to come. You’re hurting right now emotionally, financially, or in other ways. You’re terrified about the future. It may take time to get to OK, but it will eventually come.
✢ Your leaders may ask you to double down on the grind.
As if you haven’t been grinding all along, right? :) They’re terrified too and rightly so — some businesses will fail because of the downturn. But recognize your leaders are human just like you. It will take some time for them to also realize they will be OK too. Buckle up, push through the asks, and give them candid feedback along the way.
✢ Layoffs are a natural thing following explosive growth.
We’ve seen unprecedented growth for more than a decade. There’s no way on earth that could have continued indefinitely. When you’re in a betting game to get ahead of growth, eventually your cards will fold when unlimited growth is no longer on the horizon. As tough as layoffs are they’re part of the ebb and flow of doing business.
✢ Now's a great time to write, record, speak.
Struggling to process what you’re going through? Not sure how to tackle the uncertainty? Lots of people are in the same boat. So talk about it! Don't feel qualified? You’re not the only one thinking this. Many of your peers (and probably many of you reading this) haven’t experienced a downturn like this. Your voice might be what they need to hear.
✢ Some functions will need to find adjacent jobs or new careers, temporarily or permanently.
Part of the path to get to OK for some people will be moving into adjacent roles or changing careers entirely. I worry most about my recruiter friends who may be hardest hit in the near term, but they have tremendous skills that are transferrable to other roles if needs be. Keep this on your radar as an option.
✢ Helping others goes a long, long way in a downturn.
You’ve already seen the outpouring of support from hiring managers with open roles to those who've been laid off. That’s one way to help. There are a gazillion other ways too. Become a mentor (or find one) on ADPlist.org or Designed.org, offer a free portfolio review, or simply turn off your screen and see who else is hurting IRL around you and find ways to help.
Let me reassure you again: You will be OK. The world isn’t coming to an end. Keep your head high and you’ll eventually come out on top.