NOTE: This post was written a few months ago during a period of turmoil at my job. I've since moved on and started a new position.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm in a chaotic time at work, leading me to debate (on an almost daily basis) if I need to get serious about job hunting.

At present, I've decided to ride out the chaos, but that leads to a new problem: how to stay motivated and keep doing a good job while things are going wonky.

As has been my experience in several previous jobs, when things start getting tough at work, the rumor mill really takes off. There are a couple of stages of this. It starts with smaller side coversations about the future of the company/product/group. Eventually, if things continue on that path, this breaks out into open, group-wide gripe sessions about what's 'going to happen' and how managaement is being dishonest or making dumb decisions.

I've learned a few lessons about these sessions:

1) No one involved really knows anything. It may be that their guesses are correct, but I've found that generally, the folks sitting around griping are not the ones with the knowledge of the real situation.

2) Management is never going to give you answers to silly questions that always get asked in times like these: "will there be layoffs?", "Is the site getting shut down?", etc. I call this type of question silly as there is no good answer to them. No sane manager that is actually doing her job is going to answer them truthfully. Frequently it would actually be illegal to answer them truthfully.

The next time you hear a question like this, play out the potential responses. If the manager says, "No, the site's is not getting shut down next month". How much credence will you give that answer? Will it change anything?


So, here is my coping plan for the next couple weeks/months/however long this lasts.

I'm going to try to avoid the rumor-mill conversations or get out of them as quickly and quietly as I can. Those might feel good at the time, but they ruin your momentum and motivation.

I'm also going to try to stay focused on the task. Some times keeping your head down and just working is a good thing. I'm fortunate that I currently have more than enough work to do to keep me busy. That work may turn out to be futile in the end, but I need to remember that how I do the work matters and my reputation with my co-workers is one of my most valuable assets.

I'm going to focus on keeping calm and knowing that I can ride out this storm. The worst case scenario here is that this job goes away tomorrow, next weeek, next month. I knew this job wasn't "forever" when I took it. I should gain what I can while it lasts, both in terms of knowledge and skill and also in reputation with my peers. I've been laid off before on several occassions. It's been the community I've built around me that has pulled me through in those times.

That said, I'll definitely keep my eyes open for interesting opportunities that cross my path. One shouldn't bury one's head in the sand, after all.

- Jim Anderson