Layoffs. RIFs. Letting people go. Transformation. Whatever you call it, it’s not pleasant: people who are with the company today will not be tomorrow.

Such is the cold, hard fact of corporate life. Layoffs suck… both for those laid off, and for those left behind.

The level of work doesn’t get reduced when layoffs happen, it increases! Employees are left holding the reins to their own accountabilities, to some of those of their departed colleagues, plus the messes of whatever transitions from X job to Y job that start happening immediately. Here are four key things to keep in mind if you’re one of those left standing when the dust settles.

  1. Don’t Try to Do It All. First of all, you can’t do two (or more jobs) and you should not try. You can’t attend all their meetings plus all of yours and spreading the peanut butter to thinly leaves nobody happy.
  2. Think Accountabilities, Not Actions. Take a few minutes for your job and your new one to answer this question: who’s counting on what and by when? Get it on paper. You’ll then be able to make choices of where to act.
  3. Align with Your Boss. Once you’ve made your choices of what now and what later, align with your supervisor. She might have different priorities or context. Get as much information on the table about who’s counted on for what and why, so everyone is working in harmony and you know you have their support.
  4. Be in Communication. Everything will not get done now, and people need to know. Try not to simply dump a ‘Sorry, Sucker, you’re screwed’ text but have at least a quick conversation about where things stand, what they should expect, and the like. Be open to small requests, such as “If you can’t get me X, can you get me the draft so I can work it in the background?” Help them as it will help you in the long run.

Lastly, remember your former colleagues. Some may be open to providing insight and guidance. Most of us want to know our contribution matters even when the company might not continue to have a place for us.

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