Wednesday, November 5, 2008

How to retain your job in tough times

You’re standing at the coffee machine at work for your morning cup of java; a colleague comes up to you and says ‘Did you hear? They’re firing। It’s already started in marketing and they’re saying it’s going to hit all the departments one by one.’This doesn’t come as a total surprise. You’ve seen the signs. There have been budget cuts, travel cutbacks, projects have been cancelled, managers have handed in resignations, temps and contractors have been terminated, there have been reductions in support staff, downsizing is rampant.Times are tough, the economy isn’t doing too well, firms are simply not seeing the kind of profits they were seeing a couple of years ago. Just last week you found out that your friend’s entire team was ‘let go’, said friend included.You have a sour taste in the back of your mouth, and it’s not the milk they’re using for the coffee. You can’t afford to lose this job, you like this job. God knows it’s going to be difficult to get another one given the circumstances in today’s job market.Then again, you’re good at what you do. You’re smart, hardworking, you earned this job and you’re going to keep it! Never forget, they hired you because they need your skills. So, how do you ensure your job isn’t on the chopping block? Start with the intangibles.
Have a positive Attitute
Nobody wants to work with somebody who’s on a constant downer। Exhibit optimism and team spirit, a go-getter attitude, all that stuff you went on so enthusiastically about when they interviewed you for this post. Bottom line, stay positive. Act positive, speak positive, think positive. Do not complain, whine or bitch about your job or your pay. If you’re going to be banging drums, they had better be drums of hard work. Remember, there’s a long line of people waiting at the door, CVs ready, to snatch up any opening that’s available. Most importantly, never, ever say negative things about your job profile, timings, workload, colleagues or any other aspect of your job to, or within earshot of, your boss.When making suggestions or bringing up matters that require attention, be neutral at worst, and helpful and proactive whenever possible .Avoid venting your frustrations and blaming your colleagues.
Never lose your Self Esteem
If you feel the sudden urge to build a bond with your boss, make it as genuine a bond as possible। Taking up smoking so you can accompany the higher-ups on their smoke breaks is not only unhealthy, it also means you’re working less, not the kind of thing you want to be doing. If you can, start taking fewer breaks.The next time a senior walks past your desk at lunchtime, you’re going to be so immersed in work that you won’t even notice them noticing your dedication to the task at hand. Genuine hard work will go a long way. Come in early, leave late. Do not do that the other way around. You want to be at work, at your desk, before your boss walks in, and you want them to see you at your desk, showing no signs of leaving, as they’re walking out. That being said, do not stretch tasks that were supposed to be finished and handed in yesterday.
Be Smart
According to Sandeep Kalamkar of Standard Chartered Bank, “It is vital that you keep abreast of current events, among other things you need to know include changes in the economy that are going to affect the industry you work in.”So read and be aware of what’s going on in the economic and industrial world today. Use this knowledge when you take part in office discussions, and keep your ears open to the opinions of those older and wiser colleagues that are more aware than you. Do not let yourself become lazy. During slowdowns, it’s all the more important that you stay on your toes. Be supportive of changes at the workplace, such as cost-cutting measures. If you can, even help your boss to plan a strategy to control costs further. This would not be a good time to put in a request for spending, say on training, or to ask for holiday leave. Remember the mantra, work, work, work. If you’re seen as somebody who isn’t a hundred per cent devoted to the job, you’ll stand out in a way you won’t like.
It’s not uncommon for employees who have witnessed a round of layoffs to feel paralysed or trapped, but that’s the perfect time for them to reinvent themselves. Tough times often present the hidden opportunity for employees to put other skills to work, to multi-task, handle various roles, if even to a small extent. Employees that are good at multi-tasking not only help a company keep up the work pace, but ensure that they are more useful to the firm and hence less at risk in the next wave of job cuts. If you’re good at multi-tasking , and you feel you can do part of a laid-off colleague’s job, do head on to the boss’ office and let them know that you can help. Nothing helps like pitching in. A volunteer spirit demonstrates team-player skills, and team-players support change.Taking on additional roles helps you gain insight into wider aspects of the business, increasing your knowledge of how the firm operates and what skills other tasks require.
It also helps you to understand how your role at work connects with others. Plus, offering to take on additional responsibilities can help pave the way for a pay hike when things get back on track, and also add value to your CV.According to Kim Moldofsky, President, Positive Impact Inc, a training and consulting firm, it is important to ‘let your bosses know what you’re doing.’ From big and innovative projects to small, seemingly inconsequential tasks, make sure your bosses are aware that you’re handling your share. Do not brag, or be brazen about it, just keep them informed. Letting your bosses know that you’re pulling your own weight will help ensure your job safety in the long run. Keep them posted on a phone conversation you had with an important client, or CC your boss on a relevant email.
Be organised and alert
Be organised, sharp, and quick on the job. Boost your CV. Plenty of people work and take supplementary courses as well.You could either pick up an additional qualification or take a training course in a hobby.Informal information that comes through the company grapevine is really your best bet to gauge the pulse of the firm. Often the first hint that a company isn’t doing as well as it should be will come through the grapevine, and the sooner you know, the more prepared you will be for when rumours turn out to be fact. Do not however use the grapevine to speak ill of your colleagues.That kind of thing will almost certainly come back to bite you in the behind.
Be approachable and appreciative
Firing is often more subjective than objective. High Maintenance Employees (HME) are twice as likely to get fired as employees that are well liked by their colleagues and superiors. If you’re the kind of person who is egoistical, refuses to help a coworker with a problem, brags about their achievements, and generally has an unpleasant attitude, chances are you’re going to get it in the neck even if you do perform just as well as the next guy. Be as approachable as possible without being a doormat.If you’ve asked a co-worker for advice or help on a deadline, and together you’ll get the job done, don’t forget to thank them. Every little thing contributes to keeping the atmosphere at work friendly. It’s also a known fact that the first person that comes to mind in a positive light is somebody you like, not somebody who is just competent.Things are never as bad as they seem, and every trough is followed by a peak. Follow the simple points and you’ll be well-prepared for whatever the job market throws your way.
Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror

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