What to do when your team is on the sidelines

  • This edition of Insider’s job advice column is for a Gen Zer who thinks she’s on the sidelines.
  • Although the situation is worrying, experts say it could actually be good for her career.
  • It could be an opportunity for her to show her mettle and establish her brand.

I’m a Gen Z employee at a large company, and I’m a little over a year into my first full-time professional job out of college. I am passionate about my work and I love my colleagues. Recently, however, I’ve felt like my company has stopped prioritizing my team — which is both annoying and frustrating. We have less say in the tasks we work on. We are given little opportunity to take on bigger projects. and we also had quite a few staff changes.

In the past few months, two members of my team have left the company and are not being replaced. We are now running low, which means my remaining colleagues and I only have time to complete the most basic team tasks. This leaves us unable to work on the projects we enjoy most and has drained morale.

Part of me thinks this is a sign that I should start looking for a new job. In the current market, I feel like my team could be targeted if my company makes layoffs.

On the other hand, because I love my team and the work I do, I want to stay and try to make it better. I know the team and I have great potential, and if we are given even half the resources we had before these changes, we could exceed expectations.

Since I know that my team and I are less of a priority for my company, what should I do?

Your distress is palpable and you are not alone. It’s an anxious time for the workforce: With a potential recession looming, the economy is facing more than usual uncertainty, and it’s safe to say that many people are worried about their job security. Gen Zers, in particular, are on edge. Recent surveys show that this group of workers—those born in the late 1990s and early 2000s—feel disconnected and anxious about their careers.

This may be a case where youth does not trump experience, however. The fact is, you’re just getting started and you don’t have a frame of reference for how economic cycles affect organizations and their employees. This is not to dismiss you for not being on the block, but just to point out that changing corporate priorities is normal in the life of an organization. Customer tastes change, executives come and go, and strategies adjust accordingly.

Organizations are particularly adept at changing priorities when the economy deteriorates. Life as an employee isn’t always fun – and it can be downright unsettling – but you get used to it as you progress in your career and experience more downs. At the risk of sounding like a patronizing old Gen Xer, you develop an “Oh, that again” mentality.

Since you love your job and are inclined to stay, let me give you some non-Gen X advice: Try to see the bright side of the situation.

Yes, your colleagues have quit and not been replaced, but that could mean your company won’t have to downsize by laying people off later. It’s true that your team’s best assignments have been taken away, but that could motivate you to get involved in different parts of your organization and lend a helping hand to other projects. And yes, morale is currently low — but you also say that the team “has great potential” and that you “love your coworkers,” which is important and bodes well for your future job satisfaction.

Simply put: This situation can be good for your career. “Think of it as an opportunity to prove yourself, demonstrate your mettle, and establish your brand,” said Jennifer Moss, an author and workplace strategist who consults with large organizations on HR issues. “Then, once the company is back in growth mode, you’ll be more senior” — and primed to take on a bigger, more senior role.

On the other hand, it never hurts to passively start looking for a new job while you’re busy. “You should always put your career development first — especially when you’re young,” says Dan Schawbel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success and CEO of Workplace Intelligence, a research and consulting firm. , he said. “If you feel like your company isn’t investing in you, look at what else is out there.”

This is especially true as the social costs of job switching have declined and job creation has lost its stigma.

Here’s a TL;DR version: Stay put, keep working hard, but make an extra effort to make new connections in other parts of your organization. Increase your visibility and expand your professional network. And in the meantime, keep your eyes and ears open for other opportunities. You will face many challenges like this throughout your working life. Adaptability is vital.

This story was originally published on September 14, 2022.

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