Our economy today is in a state of depression. Companies continue to cut costs by laying off workers. Likely you already experience a great deal of job anxiety thanks to: our current economic depression; outsourcing; part-time employment agencies; competition; rising costs of raw materials and health care; geo-politics; corporate spin-offs, and many other factors. There is more bad news ahead. Jobs will continue to leave America for China; the new partners of the secretive TPP; and Mexico. The remainder of corporate jobs in America will be reserved for the “cream of the crop”. To possibly survive a downsizing you must have already positioned yourself among the highest-value human “assets” in your division and company, if the company plans to retain an employment presence. How do you do that? 28 Tips (see below).
We present a list of 28 actions that you might want to make a part of your daily activity. These tactics may help to provide you with a slightly wider safety net should your company consider downsizing. Your company lawyers and Human Resources may be less inclined to declare YOU redundant. These moves will also help you to improve your value to other employers, in the event you are laid off, by building your skills, network, and resume.
- As soon as you have mastered your job, find ways to exceed expectations. Do more, better, and faster.
- If you are hired to do job “A”, learn how to make a bigger contribution to the success of your company. Find an acceptable “A+1”. Example, if a salesperson, exceeding forecasts is great, but not good enough. Exceed foreast AND find ways to contribute to the team’s success: new applications, better selling techniques, new niches for more sales, something teachable to help your colleagues and company succeed.
- Sometimes managers assign tasks to keep you busy until “value work” comes along. Question–quietly, to yourself–everything assigned to you. It must always add value to the company. If you can’t see the connection to value, find an acceptable way of discussing that with your manager.
- Become leading edge. Keep learning. Keep up with technology. Even if you have to do it on your own time and ticket. If possible stay one or two steps ahead of technologies being adopted by your company. Of course, master whatever technology is required by your company.
- If you are fresh from school and entering a job market for the first time…Stop your whining. Don’t challenging everything assigned to you. Certainly don’t complain. It’s called “work” for a reason. Get with the program! In business the squeaky wheel not only gets the grease, but is also shown the door.
- Be positive, supportive. Apply principles from “Make Friends and Influence People”–that’s a book title.
- Don’t become a confessional. Don’t let your colleagues come and complain to you. If they do, point them to this list!
- In martial arts there’s a concept of “blending with the force”. On the job, learn to blend with the forces of corporate direction and changes. Be willing to accept and meet the changing business needs of your manager and of the company.
- Don’t be shy to “puff-licize” your contributions. If you do something wonderful, be sure the brass knows about it…but in communicating your success to the company, be sure to follow proper channels and to puff-licize only significant contributions.
- “Lavish praise and approbation” is advice right from success-maker, Napolean Hill. But don’t be silly about it. Not everything is significant and warrants such praise and approbation. Do it but don’t be “plastic” about it and don’t become annoying.
- Loyal customers, or important stakeholders, who are happy, can help tell your boss about your contribution. Ask them politely to send your boss an email or to give your boss a phone call. Be sure you practice what you preach by also returning the favor when appropriate to do so.
- Represent your company well when on the job or off the job. Don’t put yourself in any position or do anything that brings negative attention to you and consequently to your company. Keep your nose clean.
- As a corollary to keeping your nose clean, become active in the community and get out there where other people will know you as a corporate employee giving your personal time to great things for the community.
- Can you actually take on more work? If so, let your boss know you can TEMPORARILY handle some added workload and would be willing to put in extra hours should an emergency with workloads ever descend on your manager or the department. Be prepared to cooperate when asked to put in overtime. If you are asked to provide extra help, either taking on added projects, coming in on your own time, or simply working a number of days with extra hours, do so.
- Put most of your effort into those things that are most valuable to your company. “Pareto Rule” says that only 20% of [inputs] produces 80% of [results]. Find your most important, critical value-adding activities then direct most of your energy towards those activities.
- Do you know the name of the janitor? You should. The lesson here is to have respect and give respect…to everyone. For those of you who immigrated from places where women are subservient to men…it doesn’t work that way in America! So get with the North American culture. Show genuine respect to all people regardless of job status, gender, race, color, religion. Note: I am emphasizing “GENUINE RESPECT”, not merely a patronizing respect.
- Keep an eye open for possible clues of upcoming downsizings. If you do see such clues, try to position yourself early to help you survive the upcoming job cuts.
- How many people in the company know of you and have met you? Learn ways to expand your circle of influence. Think of this as raising your profile within the internal community. Are you active in company sport events? Do you volunteer to help with the company CHRISTMAS PARTY, or the annual awards banquet, or the organizing of incentive trips–for those companies that still have Christmas parties and incentive trips?
- Keep a presence on professional social media sites. Such as LinkedIn. And use a professional-looking photo–see our article “Is Your Profile Photo Smoking-Hot or a Dud?!“
- Nobody is perfect. If in your eagerness to help the company succeed, you make a mistake or two, don’t try to hide it. Take the ethical approach and inform your boss. You certainly do not want your error to catch your boss by surprise! NOr do you want to create suspicions that you may hide other problems.
- No gossip. Don’t spread rumors. Don’t criticize or condemn behind someone’s back.
- NETWORK: join associations related to your job and try to work your way up the ranks to positions of influence in those associations. Ask your boss to pay for association fees if you can draw a connection between your participation and benefits and value to your company.
- Once you have implemented #22, and have a position on the organization or advisory board of the association, consider the promotional and publicity opportunities you may have created or may be in a better position to take advantage of. It would be ideal of your corporate executives can be invited to participate in some events or even be a keynote speaker. Even streaming events are worthy…even an article for one of the association publications. Think “puff-licity” for yourself.
- Are you able to contribute comments and posts to online blogs run by associations or your customers? If so, be certain to pass ALL OF YOUR WRITING by your boss and then by your pubic relations/advertising department. Do not put anything in writing without it being properly sterilized, even if writing on your own time after work.
- Keep a list handy of ALL OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS. Keep it in your desk drawer ready for presentation on a moment’s notice. Bring it with you to every meeting with your boss or other executives. Find a conversational way, a polite way, to mention some of your accomplishments to the brass to help keep your valuable contributions in their minds.
- The message is NOT the medium. You can not build strong, emotional ties to others merely by typing text messages. You must be there in person. Set time aside to spend time with others over a coffee, lunch, business meeting of any sort, socially, etc. Anyone can send a message. Not everyone can build strong friendships with colleagues.
- Proactively ask for feedback from colleagues and especially your boss. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself, but do get feedback so annual performance appraisals are not a shock to you. Don’t make a nuisance of yourself by asking too often.
- Know your label…I call it a “label”. Also have an elevator pitch about yourself. And also have a compelling value proposition–search our site for “value proposition”. When asked for my advice, I insist on all these, but I stress you must have a “killer label” much as computer companies try to find a “killer application”. If you discover you have a negative label…then work to change it to the positive label. Use “Puff-licity” (see above) to build, support, and promote your desired label.
The above checklist won’t guarantee a lifetime employment position. It will be useful, though, to help reduce job-loss anxiety while helping you to become a more valuable employee to your company. And, in the process of implementing the above, you’ll have a suitable “paper trail” that can help you produce a powerful, effective resume in case you are declared redundant.