Rightsize your response

4 ways to win at work during layoffs

In a time of layoffs, here is how to stand apart and get ahead
4 ways to win at work during layoffs
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In the short span since 2023 began, more than 100,000 of the world’s most skilled workers are reported to have had their jobs abruptly terminated.

Once a booming industry that attracted a gold rush of talent from advertising, corporates, and consultancies, the tech sector has laid people off in swathes in one of the largest culls in the industry’s history.

From Amazon to Alphabet, Disney to Zoom, firm after firm has followed suit in a domino effect of layoffs, all to survive oncoming market headwinds. Employees who remain will face intense competition.

Employees must prepare themselves to upskill rapidly in new areas to continue to add value, justify their salaries and secure their futures. At the same time, leaders are likely to challenge, shape and push employees hard over the coming months, with a renewed focus on maximizing productivity and performance.

Behavioral science—and more specifically, the science of precision coaching - can offer a toolkit for the high performance, productivity, and career growth we’re all looking to achieve. Below we’ve outlined some ways you can use it to win right now.

Adopt a solution-focused mindset

Ruminating, over-analyzing, and worrying about what’s gone before is an easy trap to fall into during times of change. But for most workplace challenges, success is about solving the problems in front of us, not picking over the past.

At MindGym, we root our own precision coaching methodology in solution-focused therapy (SFT) – one of the most validated techniques for behavior change. This is because reams of research show that adopting a solution-focused mindset at work is a sure-fire route to success, whatever the obstacles we face. It improves our likelihood of achieving our goals, helps us develop better action plans faster, and unlocks the divergent thinking needed to build different, more creative strategies for success.

It also makes us more likely to zero in on problems, laser-focused on finding a solution, instead of falling into the all-too-tempting traps, avoiding them altogether, or becoming anxious and distracted, running around in circles of indecision.

Coming to work determined to solve, not evade, problems marks us out as helpful collaborators and builds our reputation as someone who gets things done—building our indispensability within the team.

Right-size the goal

Right-sizing your goals is fundamental to winning at work.

When we set the bar unrealistically high, behavioral science shows we very quickly become discouraged about our ability to achieve our goals and give up. When we set goals that are too small, we automatically decrease our effectiveness, leading over time to a skill decline.

Goals need to be right-sized and optimally shaped in both challenge and size to build our momentum, efficiency, and effectiveness, setting us up for long-term success.

At MindGym, we’ve found that when you combine a solution-focused mindset with right-sized goals, a clear definition of success, and straightforward first steps, your performance will increase in no time.

Build your own toolkit for positive behavior change (COM-B)

Research shows good intentions lead to new behaviors only one-third of the time.

Once you’ve identified your goals and strategy for success, you need a plan to combat the competing priorities, complex environments, entrenched habits, and human forgetfulness that keep many of us stuck in a rut at work.

One of the smartest ways to unlock behavior change is to use the COM-B framework, which distills 20 years of research into one straightforward yet highly effective tool. COM-B analyzes potential and existing blockers to change and identifies solutions based on three essential factors: capability, opportunity, and motivation. It starts with asking these questions:

  • Capability: Do you know what you need to change? Do you have the necessary skills and knowledge to do it?
  • Opportunity: What can you do to create the conditions required to support change?
  • Motivation: What are the consequences of getting it wrong or avoiding making a change?

Knowing these answers and how to address them gives you your best shot at going from knowing to doing at work, turning potential into reality.

Transform yourself from beginner to high-flier

No matter where you are in your career, the key to high performance at work isn’t doing it all but continually growing in what you can do well. A meta-analysis of 98 papers shows that you will see better performance at work sooner if you focus on mastering one thing at a time.

This is called the mastery-orientation mindset, centered around the belief that abilities are not fixed. Positive change and growth happen when we reframe challenges as goals for us to attain, not fixed obstacles we’re powerless to shift.

To achieve this, streamline your goals to conquer one and then another. You’ll build self-efficacy and the confidence to achieve more as you see ongoing progress.

The average person using the mastery mindset can improve by two standard deviations (the equivalent of a person moving from the 50th to the 98th percentile) within just four sessions. This science-backed method is advantageous for an employee looking to excel in their role immediately.

More tools for success

You have the blueprint to navigate turbulence and change with science-backed solutions that will offer you a winning edge over the months ahead.

These tips and more are expanded and brought to life in our whitepaper, Precision Coaching: how to be an outlier. MindGym also offers a wide range of eWorkouts designed to help you win at work.

Dr. Janet Ahn is an experienced experimental social psychologist preparing some of the world’s largest organizations for the challenges of tomorrow. As US President and chief behavioral science officer at MindGym, she leads global product innovation, research & development, and digital solutions expansion. Janet is co-author of Learning that CLICS.