Success Strategies for Tough Times


just no getting around it. Times are tough. The economy is in crisis,

businesses are struggling, previously secure workers are now fearful of losing

their jobs. The emotional impact can be great, leading to feelings of anxiety

and depression - and a concomitant loss of focus and creativity. The potential

effects on work performance consist of reduced productivity, innovation, and

overall employee morale.

Yet there

is opportunity for growth in the midst of these economic hard times. While it

might go against intuition, success in difficult times calls for holding true

to basic tenets of effective behavior. With the proper attitude and approach,

you can indeed thrive in uncertain times.

In the

interest of full disclosure – and to give credit where credit is due – I have

to thank my 5-year old son for the inspiration for today’s tips. For it was

during a delightful Sunday afternoon together – filled with game-playing,

puzzle-assembling, artwork and general enjoyment – that my attention was drawn

to the power of the basics. Here are a few tips I’d like to share with you:


as a team.

you’re putting together a Spiderman jigsaw puzzle (as we were) or advancing a

new product to market, there’s nothing like the power of collaboration. Working

together allows for faster progress and more creative solutions.



you’ve made a commitment, stick to it. And while you’re at it, hold those

around you accountable, too. My son didn’t waste a moment taking me to task

when I tried to divert him from his much-loved game of Candyland. “But Mom, you

promised!” And so I did.



your coworker or report does something well, give him a well-deserved pat on

the back. If he’s uncertain and needs a little encouragement, offer it up. I

can’t tell you how lovely it was to hear my little guy comment on my drawing by

saying, “Mommy, I love your work.”



times can mean limited access to valued resources. The temptation might be to

get what you can for yourself and your team, even if that means leaving others

empty-handed. Yet sharing resources (in my case, taking turns with the yellow

crayon) with others means they’re far more likely to do the same for you.



times can take a profound toll on your physical and emotional well-being. Don’t

forget to take some time to refresh and reenergize yourself at regular

intervals. Your approach to refreshment may differ from my 5-year old’s

(snacking on Cheerios and chocolate milk), so find what works for you. Then do




times call for flexibility and a willingness to do things differently. You may

have to take on new responsibilities, modify your schedule, or work with a

different set of people. Letting go of disappointment (for my son, that meant

not finding his favorite program on TV) and being open to new opportunities

will help you gain credibility as a resilient and cooperative team player.


at the risk of sounding rather Pollyannaish,



the worst of storms passes with time. Remaining optimistic, grounded, and

focused on the future will help you weather the hard times and move bravely

ahead. I was so proud of my son, who had been feeling somewhat under the

weather, when he declared, “I’m sick but I’m happy.” Now there’s an attitude

that will serve him well in both good times and bad.


Dr. Liz Bywater is a highly respected career success coach and corporate consultant. As president of Bywater Consulting Group, she assists her clients through private career consultation, executive coaching and leadership development, career transition coaching, pre-hire assessment, team development, management training, workshop facilitation and keynote speaking. Liz is internationally recognized for her expertise in workplace performance and leadership excellence. As such, she has been inte...

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