Are you a basket case when it comes to undermining your own career progress?  Many employees are.

Some of the greatest barriers to performance improvements, performance results, and subsequent career progress come from the employee him-, or herself. One such area is on-the-job reactions to various events that are typical within almost every work environment.

The boss comes along and asks you to take on more work. Your initial reaction is to suck it up and agree. After all, when you look around you see that hundreds are being laid off at your firm so you don’t want to rock the boat, so to say. But here’s the paradox. Though you are working to your maximum potential, by agreeing to take on more, you are admitting you aren’t. So, here are some possible strategies to dealing with a company environment undergoing layoffs and downsizings and the inevitable requests for you to do more…


Strategy to deal with additional workloads, or to continue to deliver after your staff has been reduced: 

  1. Explain you and your staff are already working beyond capacity. Explain that in a nice way, of course. There is no need to ruffle feathers, but there is a need to make your case concrete and crystal clear.
  2. Ask for more resources including time extensions, money and people.
  3. And, ask for workload relief. Ask that a major project or assignment be removed from your plate and assigned to someone else or to another staff group.

Failing to execute these three tactics will doom you to underperformance. Come next performance appraisal, the underperformers will be the ones flagged for early dismissal or layoffs.


You feel threatened by the downsizings and chaos all around you:

  1. Be progressive about discussing with your manager, any event or changes within your work environment and to company culture or objectives that, in turn, may impact your job or performance.
  2. Suggest to your manager, or ask from your manager, a plan of action for your job that will help you to maintain your progress and that will prevent you from being tainted, or buried by, the events unfolding around you. Nothing wrong with making your concerns and fears known and asking for a plan to protect your ability to contribute at high levels of performance. Don’t insist on guarantees. But, do initiate a discussion to let your management know you are willing to work in harmony with a plan of action he or she suggests. It may mean no change whatsoever. Or, they may send you on a few after-hours courses to upgrade your skills.
  3. Let them know your intention is to become a more valuable long-term employee and seek a potential short-term game plan from your management.


You seek refuge in the thought that the company, [“my management owes it to me”], will look after you because of your past contributions and the large number of years of service:

  1. When changes happen in a company, especially when a company reduces staff to meet lower operating cost objectives, there is no such thing as a safe place to hide. Seniority, past contributions, years of service, how well you are liked, all such variables go out the window when a manager is forced to trim staff.  Don’t be bashful about facing the music.  Come out from the shadows at the appropriate time, often, earlier is better, and have a conversation with your manager about your interest in protecting your job performance for the long-term, in light of all the changes going on everywhere in the company.
  2. Prior to reaching this point in time, though, it may be a good idea for you to make it a point to regularly present documentation of your value to the corporation. Don’t wait for your annual review. Cost-cuts may take place between annual performance appraisals.   Plan your own brief performance review meeting with your boss, possibly every quarter. It can be as short as fifteen minutes but allow 30 minutes in case your boss has questions. The more engaged your boss is, the better. Plan for 15 minutes but leave room for the 30 minutes. Leave a written copy of your most recent contributions and achievements. Also, leave an updated the list of your most significant past accomplishments, adding more recent, significant ones to the list as appropriate.