According to the BBC Swiss banking group UBS has announced it is to cut 3,500 jobs globally as part of its cost savings programme. Some 45% of the job losses will fall on its investment bank.

The move was widely anticipated after the banking group announced plans last month to find 2bn Swiss francs ($2.5bn, £1.5bn) of annual savings. This came on the back of recent trading figures showing a 49% drop in quarterly profit. Ouch!

The bank said it would meet its savings target by 2013 through redundancies and natural attrition, as well as via rationalisation of its properties.

Of course, news of multinationals cutting costs and shedding staff is no longer big news. Serious economic challenges are affecting business globally and, sad though it is, we can expect to see more stories like this one in the coming months.

A key question given this background is this: What can you do to deal with the change that this kind of announcement inevitably brings? Some people take the “ostrich approach” – burying their head in the sand and hoping that the problem will just go away on its own (although I’m reliably informed that ostriches don’t actually demonstrate this behaviour!). Others prefer to confront the issue head on, challenging its validity and process and refusing to accept the impact it will have on them.

But there is a more constructive, planned approach to dealing with this kind of change – an approach that we should all adopt all the time. It’s a kind of ‘reading the writing on the wall’ that gives us clues about what the future might hold.

There are four steps to it.

1. Anticipate Change. Isaac Asimov said “The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.” being positive about change involves watching the world around you, and thereby being able to see change coming before it actually affects you directly. This enables you to prepare for the future and to make plans for what the future to look like.

2. Imagine Success. Think clearly about what you want the future to look like, when you have implemented the necessary changes. Having a clear idea about how you want it to look helps focus you on the positive; if your focus is simply on how terrible the future will be, the self-fulfilling prophecy has a habit of delivering that. As the old saying goes, you get what you wish for.

3. Recognise Obstacles. It’s really important to see obstacles so that you can deal with them. However, don’t forget the less obvious ones – those that are in your head, being made up of your own assumptions, prejudices and desires. Sometimes, we are our own biggest obstacle!

4. Take new actions. Nothing will change if you don’t do something different. Doing something different is the very essence of change. I don’t know the origin of this quote, but it’s very true: “If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got.” Einstein defined insanity as “constantly repeating the same action and expecting a different result.” Be different. Act differently.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that such a process will prevent a person from losing their job if a huge corporation like UBS is forced to make huge savings. But those organisations and individuals who do act on those four steps will be best prepared to deal with the uncertainties the future holds – and embrace the change with enthusiasm for the new opportunities it will bring.

More info here on how to apply the four-step process in your situation.

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