Opportunity knocks during a crisis at work

In these uncertain times, unpredictability and change is common. As communication professionals, I wanted to touch upon the changes in our professional lives that we might initially think of as negative or as crises, and shine a light on how they might bring opportunities.

In this post, I’ll reflect on a few work crises that I’ve experienced earlier on in my career, and how they actually inspired my professional growth.

One of the first crises that I faced was when one of the best managers that I’ve worked with tendered her resignation after years of working together at the same public relations agency. At this time I was a green, junior team member.

At first, I was in a state of shock when I heard her resignation announcement. This senior leader provided ongoing strategic council, was the key point of contact for our senior clients, and was critical in supporting my own professional development. I was panicked about who would fill her shoes once she moved on.

But once she left, I eventually adjusted to the new normal. I realized that there was an opportunity for me to take on more responsibility in managing projects and liaising with clients. I quickly applied everything that she taught me while we worked together. I honed my abilities to think more strategically, complete my work more efficiently, and build more meaningful relationships with the clients and other senior leaders at the agency.

Another experience that I initially perceived as a crisis but was actually an opportunity occurred a few years later into my career. Working at another public relations agency, one of my main clients was faced with an enormously large amount of media coverage that reported on a scientific study that essentially deemed their product as “bad” in the eyes of consumers.

To address this crisis, we conducted ongoing media monitoring to understand the scope and tone of coverage, constant communication and strategic counsel with the client, and long days spent with a diverse agency team in a “war room” to understand how the story was evolving.

At the time, this was 100 per cent an “all hands on deck” situation that could have been perceived as a crisis. However, working in this situation also provided many benefits to my professional development. I gained visibility among both the client and team as a trusted advisor and strategic communicator, managed and reviewed the team’s work to ensure high quality in a deadline-driven environment, and learned from the diverse skillsets of the other agency team members in the room.

In summary, although it might be hard to see them in the moment, there are bright points that can come out of the gloom that goes with a crisis at work. You might have the opportunity to:

  • step outside your comfort zone;
  • grow your skills and experience;
  • work with new team members; and,
  • extend your professional network.

What have you gained after a crisis at work? Share your experiences in the comments.

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