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Make yourself layoff-proof

Scared of losing your job? Snap out of it!

by on
in Dealing with Bosses,Office Management

In our lunchroom, the topic of layoffs comes up a lot. My employees read about companies like Amazon.com and Lucent Technologies letting thousands of people go, and they get nervous. They have a “that could be me” look in their eyes.

I want them a little worried.

People who think they’re entitled to their jobs don’t belong here. Sure, I’ll level with employees and show them our latest financial statements. But I also encourage them to think like free agents. I want them to quit if I fail to keep them challenged or to compensate them fairly.

Control your destiny

I want workers who think of ways to make themselves valuable. By contributing to the bottom line, they not only safeguard their jobs but rack up influence and promotions.

Think how you spend your time. Do you bellyache about your employer’s failings and fret about how ‘the idiots at the top’ are making mistakes? Or do you master new technologies, study for a degree or invent a process that can save your employer money?

If you’re whining about what you can’t control, you’re probably in line for a pink slip. But if you’re taking responsibility, you’ll probably come out on top.

Stay put and prosper

Say you love your job and would hate to leave. That alone won’t protect you from losing it. But creating a track record of success will make it harder for someone like me to let you go.

Convince me you’re layoff-proof. First, astonish me. Produce dramatic results. A slight gain will not grab my attention. Announce a bold objective, smile in the face of my skepticism and then get it done. My sales manager set a production goal that I viewed as pure bluster. Three months later, he exceeded it. This guy’s not leaving my payroll, that’s for sure.

Second, be quick and decisive. Like most CEOs, I can’t always afford to be patient. Think in terms of proving your value every quarter, not putting in a year’s effort only to come up with a modest gain that wasn’t worth the wait.

Finally, don’t be needy. Express confidence by taking risks. Speak out. If you’re shot down, come back fighting. The more you convey “I don’t need this job,” the more I’m going to hang onto you.

Rise above the fray

If layoffs do occur, don’t sit around praying you’re not next. Network like mad. Polish your résumé and put it into the hands of people who can use it. Tell your boss that you want what’s best for both you and the company. Then shut up and see what happens. If you get the hint that you may not have a job much longer, enlist your bosses as allies. Use their contacts. You’d be surprised how the threat of layoffs can bring people together—bosses and their direct reports—as they help each other land on their feet.

“Z” offers insights into what it really takes to get ahead. This 25-year veteran of the corporate battlefield has climbed the ranks to head a $100 million information services company. We have agreed to protect Z’s identity in return for his promise to hold nothing back.

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