Be the Go-to, Indispensible Person Who Has Needed Organization Knowledge
In the changing circumstances of economic forecasts and depending on the scarcity of your job skills, any employee could lose their job. Unfortunately, you could be one of them. Depending upon your industry, the strength of your company, your continued sales (or lack thereof), your employment role, and the decisions made by government officials, the threat of a layoff or downsizing could be imminent.
Don’t bury your head in the sand and hope that all of the potential threats to your job and career disappear. They won’t. You need to stay prepared during your whole career to replace the job you have if something goes awry. But, you can minimize the possibility that your job will become the target.
These tips will help you keep your job.
- Keep your ears tuned into your work grapevine;
- Watch your company's sales and profitability;
- Observe your industry trends and employment opportunities;
- Keep a close eye on Washington DC or your country's government;
- Listen skeptically to your employer when you see problems not articulated.
More Thoughts About How to Keep Your Job
Now is the time to take steps to keep your job. You can keep your job, even in a bad economy or through economic hard times for your company. But, start soon, not later, to take the steps necessary to keep your job.
Jay Himes, Executive Director of Student Services and Programming at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, suggests you need to take a good look at yourself and your contributions. "Employees' work and accomplishments speak for themselves. Look at your organization; ask yourself, 'If I wanted to start a company that does what my firm does and I could take X number of people from here, who would I take?'
”If you aren’t on the list of good employees, why not? There are two possible reasons.
- "The company doesn’t need someone who does what you do. This is often the case for people who are far removed from the firm’s customers, or whose job is primarily rooted in the bureaucracy. If your job is about building speed bumps and not about enablement, this is a warning sign.
- "You are not providing superior value. Is this a training or education issue? Is it commitment—does your workday have work or procrastination in it? Is the issue that you have relational trouble with your coworkers?
"If you honestly evaluate yourself and move to correct the issues, there is still time. Your bosses and coworkers will notice an improvement. If you wait until layoffs come it will be too late."
After you evaluate your contribution and prospects and assess the viability of your employer, you are ready to make decisions. In any case, if your current employer appears to be taking appropriate actions during both the good and the bad economic times, you will want to ensure that you keep your job—for as long as you want your job.
Switch to a More Recession-Proof Job or Career
Despite your best efforts—you've done everything recommended in this article to keep your job—but maybe the job's not worth keeping. If the information you receive, when you scope your environment at work, leaves you concerned about job security, it may be time for a job search.
Or, maybe the company's prospects leave you open for a different conversation. You're one of the lucky employees in a job and on a career path still in demand. Or perhaps it's time to consider a different career. You may want to switch to a more recession-proof career or take your talents and skills to a more recession-proof company.
But, in the meantime, before and while you pursue different career opportunities, focus on how to keep your job.
These ten steps will help you keep your job or help you prepare for a semi-predictable, but often unanticipated, job change.
10 Steps to Help You Keep Your Job
One strategy for keeping your job is to be an essential, even crucial, employee. Never wait to be told what to do. Know what to do. Take on responsibility, even when you're not asked. Position yourself as the employee your organization can't live without.
Have significant knowledge about your organization. Position yourself as the go-to person who knows the history of the company, customers, and business. Bring to the table the total company perspective about how various departments and functions interact. You know the goals and the thinking behind decisions.
Kristy Chamberlain, a Baton Rouge, LA HR manager, suggests, “The best thing an employee can do to hang on to a job is to be irreplaceable. Make sure your employer can't replace you for the same or less money, and I don't mean by keeping critical information to yourself. Have skills no one else in the department has. Be the go-to person for fixing the copier, proofreading memos, making spreadsheets, anything (and everything)."
You know the strengths and weaknesses of employees and can head off disasters with this knowledge. You are up-to-date about whom to approach with any questions or concerns.
Based on your knowledge, you bring significant insight into decisions and direction. The valued go-to person shares information and willingly trains other employees despite the fact that this may mean less job security.
Appearances to Avoid: The purveyor of significant, needed organization knowledge needs to take care that he is not seen as a roadblock, a naysayer, or a negative employee who focuses on what doesn't work, didn't work, and won't work.
You'll want to avoid being viewed as an employee who is not open to new ideas. You need to stay away from the appearance of territoriality or unwillingness to share information.
Make Your Contributions Measurable and Visible to the Right People
Contributions that add measurably to the bottom line via cost savings, process improvements, increased sales, and new customers are noticed and will help in keeping your job. It’s not enough to make the improvement, your boss must know you made the improvement. Measurable contributions count.
Start by setting goals with your boss, agree on measurements, and determine when he or she wants feedback. Make the improvements document the starting point and your progress, share the results with your boss and interested others.
Make sure your measurements are accurate and that the leadership group sees your documentation. If your company offers recognition for extraordinary contributions, ask your boss to nominate you.
Kristy Chamberlain, a Baton Rouge, LA Human Resources manager, says, “Be visible. Volunteer for extra assignments that will make the boss and the boss's boss know your name. Design a brochure, take minutes in the executive meeting, polish a report - work diligently and be noticed.”
Jay Himes, an executive director in Lynchburg, VA adds, "Make sure you are providing value. Always ask,'What are your accomplishments today? How could you have used your time better?'"
Appearances to Avoid: You don’t want to look like a braggart so a modest, low key approach to the entire process is recommended. Use these recommendations for processes and improvements that matter; not every process deserves your time.
More Resources About Making Your Work Measurable and Visible
Make Money for the Company: Contribute to Revenue Generation, Sales, Profit
People in employment roles that make money for the company will be the last to go. In fact, a recent study by JobFox indicated that top recession-proof jobs include sales and business development as number one. Sales executive and account manager/customer support are in the top ten recession-proof jobs.
This does not mean that every position in sales and marketing is safe. You’ll want to keep a close eye on your company’s overall sales and profit, the lay of the land in your industry, and on how recession-proof your products are. If you are selling banner ads online, as an example, and that industry tanks, you’d be better off switching to a job selling pay per click ads early.
If your job does not generate revenue, transfer to a job that does. Already in a money creation job? Generate even more cash for your employer.
Sam Staffen, an independent events services professional in the Detroit, MI area, suggests another way to sell your company. “Sell others on your company. If you are a management consultant at Joe’s Web Designs you should actively pursue people interested in having web designs made.
"Sell the company in your spare time. Say, ‘we have a website—have you been there?' When you are at the bar and hear someone saying they need a web design, be sure to mention your company.
”Tell other employees at Joe’s to tell people about your company. Continually promote your company. Get your company more business and then you will guarantee your future employment. It is that simple.”
Ask for More Work and More Challenging Assignments
Employees who are willing to take on additional assignments, help coworkers meet their deadlines, and volunteer for increasingly challenging assignments, are appreciated. The amount of work they contribute to the organization raises their value in the eyes of the company.
But, their willingness to grow their skills and ability to contribute sends a powerful message that they will continue to grow as employees in the future.
In an employee layoff situation, one of the key considerations is whether the employee can continue to develop to fill the kinds of jobs the employer anticipates in the future. An employee who has consistently demonstrated his or her willingness to embrace growth and challenge is valued.
An employee who does the same job, in the same way, in particularly repetitive type tasks, is not demonstrating the potential to grow. This employee will be seen as less able to fill the fewer, newly designed post-layoff jobs.
Make Sure Your Manager Likes You; Invest Genuine Time, Compliments, Attention
No, this is not sucking up to the boss or brown-nosing or those hundreds of other derogatory terms used to describe an employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor.
This suggestion is to develop a legitimate, friendly, positive, supportive relationship with your boss. Managers don’t want to lay off employees with whom they have a genuine work friendship.
Managers are people, too, and if they trust you, like you, and depend on you, they will resist laying you off. You double the impact of the liking if you have cross-unit or cross-departmental responsibilities and have developed this relationship with both managers.
Two people must be convinced to let you go. That's not very likely if you're making measurable and appreciated contributions on each team.
More About Your Relationship With Your Boss
Be a Low Maintenance Employee: No Complaining, Whining or Monopolizing the Boss
Employees who require low maintenance from a manager are valued and lauded. Almost no employment relationship is worse than the needy employee from whom the manager expects to always hear complaints or whines.
Yes, the manager has an obligation to listen to your gripes and dissatisfaction, but to dominate the conversation with these messages absolutely affects your work's value in the manager's eyes.
When your manager groans when he or she sees you coming, you know this is the wrong strategy for keeping your job. Especially when fewer employees work fewer, redesigned jobs, your manager will have even less time for your whining. Get over it, or you'll be on the receiving end of a layoff.
Work Long Hours and Make Sure the Right People Notice
Forget work-life balance for a while. You want your leadership to perceive you as exceptionally hard working. “Perception,” said Tom Peters, “is all there is.” And, perception is part of the decision making about whether you keep your job.
Working in an automotive plant, the executive leaders, their reporting managers, and even front-line supervisors never left for home until the plant manager had gone for the day. Looking into offices, employees knew exactly what was going on.
The minute the big boss’s car pulled down the drive, every other leader locked their offices and headed home. But, not one of them would leave until he had. And, since he arrived at seven and left between six and seven, those were the work hours.
This is not advocating that you adopt such an archaic, hierarchtical system. But, this may not be the time, when you're building your career or your company is troubled, during which you want to come in early so you can leave early.
If the boss never sees you arrive and your desk is empty for the afternoon manage by walking around stroll every day, your image as a hard-working employee is tarnished—even if the boss agreed to the hours. When layoffs loom, face time with coworkers and the boss in the office gains consequence.
Appearances to Avoid: The employees' plant manager knew exactly what was going on—after all, he had not always been the plant manager. These practices were embedded in the culture. He didn't notice, however, was that these employees had stopped working much earlier than when they left.
They were actually sitting, waiting for him to leave—and that’s all they were doing. They read an occasional book or moved around a stack of papers to look occupied. Today, they’d be online doing personal business. If you’re at work—work.
Keep Your Personal and Professional Skills Growing and Developing
Grow with your job and promotions. You may be a valued employee but if your skills and contributions don’t accelerate over the years when crunch time arrives, you may find yourself out of a job.
It’s good that the boss likes you, but when faced with serious challenges to the ongoing success of the company, being a liked, known quantity is not enough.
The company must view your talents and contributions as essential to the company’s future success. If you are doing a decent job, your reporting employees like and get along with you, and the job is getting done, you’ll likely coast for a while. Change is difficult even when changes would benefit the organization.
But, when your company looks to cut costs and create its successful future, only the best will survive. The weaker players, those that bet on longevity, mediocre performance, and place holding, rather than on growing, developing, and challenging their talents and skills, will be among the first to go.
Team Build With Coworkers: Cooperate to Achieve Goals and Success for All
You want to be well known and liked among the people the company regards as superstars, allies who have power and will speak up for you. (In fact, you can achieve job security if you are viewed as a superstar and on the company's list of good employees.)
Positive relationships with these employees help you accomplish your mission, your reason for working. But, they also allow management to associate you with the people who are making a difference for the company. In a time of layoffs, this is the group with whom you want to be associated.
Work across departments so many people know your work and credit your contributions.
Jason Matuska, a senior recruiter at 4 Corner Resources in Orlando, FL, says, “I hate to say it but politic with upper management. It's not what you know, it's often who you know.”
You definitely want to build successful alliances at work with all levels of the organization. The more people who know and appreciate your work, the more likely you will be to keep your job if circumstances affect employees badly.
More About Team Building With Coworkers
Take Your Talents and Skills to a More Recession-Proof Company or Job
If your current employer appears to be taking appropriate actions during whatever tough times they are experiencing, you will want to ensure that you keep your job.
If you believe your employer is unstable and insecure, now is the time to move on to a new employer. In any economic times, job searching specialists recommend keeping your resume up-to-date in case an opportunity too good to miss appears for you.
Additionally, it is important to build and maintain touch with your business network. When you decide to job search, they can help you with tips and leads. It's difficult to create a network when you suddenly find yourself unemployed.
Please take these words to heart. Whether an employer will share them with you or not, these are ten reasons why an employer will keep you employed—when others are not.
Of course, economic mishaps can take down even the best employees (for example, the company closes), but for anything short of this environment, do these things and exhibit these characteristics to stay on the list of good employees.
More About Moving to a More Recession-Proof Company or Job