JOB SECURITY has become a major workplace concern when the threat of layoffs is in the air. How do you avoid being one of the “axed”?
Before deciding who will be laid off, most managers take a number of considerations into account. Common criteria include the evaluation of an employee’s work results and value generated relative to the employee’s cost to the company. Companies in “survival” mode are put in the difficult position of having to let even highly valued employees go.
To decrease the odds that you will be one of those laid off, my coaching advice is to become “indispensible,” making sure that management is specifically aware of your unique contributions (to the degree they realize how they would suffer without you).
Be flexible and adaptive. If signs suggest layoffs are in the works and you might be one of them, communicate your willingness to be flexible (consider a pay cut, furlough, shortened work week, additional job/role assignments, etc.). There are many alternatives worthy of exploration with your boss far superior to being laid off.
Demonstrate initiative in your desire to provide value. Many companies are looking to get rid of their pretenders and “dead wood” in these difficult times. After layoffs, there are fewer workers to get things done. Your extra effort to get your work done ahead of schedule while volunteering for new assignments is a great way to be recognized versus those who will whine, complain, hide or rebel at being asked to step up. This is a great opportunity to stretch yourself and learn new career skills.
Be the one in the know. Many companies can’t afford to let go the people who have the “keys to the kingdom.” Workers who are uniquely knowledgeable about critical technology, systems and company “know-how” and maintaining key customer relationships that are critical to the company’s survival have increased job security. Being indispensable also means that you are recognized as the one who others need for help resolving day-to-day operational challenges and problems. Don’t be the one who comes to your boss only with problems. Be the one who brings the boss solutions.
Be seen. Many workers are too shy or humble for their own good. This is no time to fly under the radar or assume that others know what you do. Regular one-on-one reviews, status reports and critical project updates can be highly valuable. This may be a dangerous time to be telecommuting — remember, “Out of sight, out of mind.”
Be efficient. You can’t afford to be seen as someone who doesn’t have enough work to do. If your attendance record is poor, or you are perceived as a clock puncher, expect to be among the first to go. Be seen as someone willing to do what it takes to finish important assignments or meet critical deadlines.
Be frugal. Manage your budget as if it were your own money. Identify ways to save your company money and be seen as a hero!
Be seen as both a team player and a leader. Some of the first let go will be those seen as “problem” employees or those who don’t get along well with others.
Polish up on your interpersonal skills and self development. You can still demonstrate leadership even if you aren’t in a “leadership” role. Show that you can take the lead on projects and inspire/
persuade others. Being the “chief morale officer” is an unlikely candidate for termination.
Keep your negative judgments and gossip to yourself. Most employers don’t look favorably on workers who are seen as gossips, complainers, whiners or blamers. If you wouldn’t want your boss or the chief executive officer to hear it, don’t say it. And for heaven’s sake don’t put it in an e-mail.
Learn to professionally communicate. If this is a real problem, your job may be in jeopardy and your best job security action step will be to access help and learn new behaviors.
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