Nabs' survival guide to a messy 2012

With some small changes, your career need not be a victim of the recession, Zoe Osmond advises.

At this time of year, everyone is talking about what businesses can expect in 2012. And with the economic outlook as gloomy as the weather, these conversations are inevitably about how companies can survive the adverse conditions.

Like it or not, some of you reading this article will be facing fear of staff cuts, redundancy, stress and financial debt. But tough economic times can also be the optimum opportunity for you to push your career to the next level and not just survive, but thrive.

Be flexible and adaptable

Intransigence in a recession will get you nowhere. It's more important to keep an open mind.

You need to be receptive - particularly to change. Respond with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn new ways to achieve targets and objectives.

Be creative and show initiative - actively seek out new ways of doing things and don't be scared to improvise and/or experiment. It may be an opportunity to show your employer the other skills you have that they may not be aware of. They may add value.

Change your behaviour - show that you can adjust your style of working to meet the needs of a situation or emergency.

Actively plan your career

Too often, we wait for our career to develop through the actions of our line managers, but your career needs to be driven by you, especially during tough times when focus is on business delivery. Think about your future career and how you can be a more proactive employee. Some questions to ask yourself are:

Is your career on the right path or could there be better ways that you can be utilising the skills you have to make you more effective and productive?

If you are a manager, how can you lead your team more effectively, keeping them motivated and working smarter, but not necessarily harder?

Is there more you can be involved with outside your core role that could benefit your company?

Are you feeling pressured by fewer staff but not necessarily less work? Identify where the pressure is coming from so you can deal with the root causes and plan a way of managing more effectively.

Get networking

Not because you are searching for another job, but because it's important to draw on the learnings of others. In such a fast-changing environment, it's key that we become both specialist and generalist - as a result, talking to others about their experiences will provide you with more than a new contact address.

Be money-aware

You have to consider the "life" part of the work/life balance, and it isn't just companies that can go bankrupt.

People can too.

Obviously, you need to make sure you're not spending more than you're earning.

If you're in money trouble, don't ignore the problem. Take action - which will make you feel better about things.

If you can, look for ways to increase your income. And share your financial worries - we all have a tendency to think that things are worse than they actually are.

If the worst should happen in 2012, these basic pointers will hopefully mean you're in the best position possible to be able to respond to your situation. And if you need more advice, Nabs can offer help so you don't have to face any of these challenges on your own. Our trained experts on the Advice Line can help you with a whole range of professional and personal issues, from financial management and debt to employee relations and career development. Having an unbiased ear can add clarity and perspective to any situation.

Some of it may seem like common sense, but it is surprising how quickly common sense can desert you in times of high stress.

Zoe Osmond is the chief executive of Nabs.