With unemployment on the rise, job security is practically a thing of the past. According to a recent Fortune article, “Nearly half of all U.S. employers— 48 percent —laid people off in 2008, according to a poll by the Society for Human Resource Management, while this year, 60 percent plan to cut headcount. Challenger Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based outplacement firm that closely tracks layoff statistics, predicts one million more pink slips in 2009, and says the job market may not bounce back until 2012.”
In an early 2008 usnews.com article, Stephen Viscusi, CEO of New York based headhunting company Viscusi Group, said: “Whether or not we go into a recession, the knee-jerk reaction of many corporations in times like this is to let people go.” Now we aren’t all working for corporations, but we are in a recession, so what Viscusi says has some merit.
The trouble with all the generic advice you find is that it is aimed toward the average worker. The business principles don’t always apply to our microcosm, where every day is casual Friday, and a handshake still means something. That’s why TransWorld Business takes these lessons and translates them to action sports.
1. Be Indispensable
Don’t micro-manage yourself, but make sure your boss knows what you’re doing. This one is tricky, though. Very few people like an apple polisher—in fact, it can rub some people the wrong way, especially if they get the impression that you’re after their job. Don’t kook it. Sending updates to your boss several times a day can do more harm than good, if your time’s better spent doing work.
2. Quantity Vs. Quality
Each reader has to assess their own job situation—do you have the kind of job/boss that responds well to getting MORE work done, or BETTER work done?
For a warehouse shipper, sending out 200 packages is better than 50, but if 10 of them are missing beanies, you’re better off slowing it down and getting it right. Then again, if you’re in sales, what’s better—one huge order for $20,000, or ten $5,000 orders? You know what? Why not strive for both. Quantity and quality are both good.
How does one achieve both quality and quantity? Stop dicking around on the Internet, for one. Productivit
y expert Julie Morgenstern cites Web surfing as the second biggest time waster at work, next to checking email.
* Editor’s Note: reading transworldbusiness.com daily is very helpful in keeping up with the latest news of our industry, and not considered “dicking around.”
3. Stay Busy (or just look that way)
A friend once told me that he set his computer to turn on at 7:30, and that every night before he left he would place a half-eaten Egg McMuffin on his desk. That way, he could stroll in at 8:25, and people still thought he was an early riser.
Don’t do that.
But the lesson is, the more you’re at work, the more you look like you’re working. If possible, get to work before the boss, and leave after he/she does. Bonus points for casually taking the spot next to the one reserved for the boss. Perception may become reality—don’t be afraid to actually get more work done. If you spend two hours updating your Facebook page every day, people will know.
4. Don’t Rest On Your Laurels
Even if you‘ve been successful and indispensable in the past, don’t think your job is safe. This industry has a very young demographic, and people are clamoring to get in—meaning there’s almost always someone willing and able to take your job. A good reputation is not just earned, but also maintained.
And if you think you may be on the chopping block, get to networkin.’ Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Chal
lenger says: “In times of economic instability, longer-tenured workers should take advantage of the dense network of relationships they’ve created inside the company and begin reviving those bonds and building advocates. This is the time to wave the company flag to show your allegiance and take coworkers out for coffee.”
If you’re a newer hire, meet some people and befriend them. Quick.
5. Know If You’re “At Risk”
Right now, there are several industries (like—gulp!—print journalism) that are being significantly affected by economy, or technology, or a number of other factors. Don’t let change take you by surprise. Know when to innovate (like beefing up your Web presence!) or start looking to a new career (professional underpants model).
Expand your skill set if that’s possible. Take a class, or attend a seminar—especially if you’re new. “You’ve got to be a learning machine,” explains Rainmaker Thinking’s Bruce Tulgan. Not only can this help you stay employed and become more useful, it can keep you fresh and stimulated. A stagnant employee might not make it to the Christmas party next year.
7. Love Your Job
If you work in action sports, I hope you at least like your job. But even if you don’t, LOVE your job. Even if only for a little while. A sunny disposition will make you someone people want to work with, and when it comes time to lay off, employers will want to get rid of the douchebags first. “Human resources people will deny this, but in nine times out of ten, they fire what I describe as HMEs: high maintenance employees… Firing is 90% subjective,” Viscusi says.
Maintain a positive attitude—realistic, but positive. And don’t grumble. If you’ve got gripes and complaints, for the love of god, keep them to yourself.
8. Be Prepared For Anything
Don’t let a layoff sweep you off your feet. If you get a salary reduction, don’t fly off the handle and storm out—especially if you’ve got a mortgage and family. Take it graciously, and then weigh your options—should you be on the hunt for a new job? Ride it out and hope you get bumped back up? Or start swiping office supplies? It’s up to you. But the sooner you dust off old connections, and fine-tune your resume; the better off you’ll be in case of emergency.
9. Get Out And…
Skate, Surf, or Snowboard—as much as possible. Whatever you’re into, participate. It’s a great way to refresh yourself, like a control-alt-delete for your brain. If nothing else, it can be a reminder of why you put up with the staff that drives you nuts in the first place. Just don’t do it on company time…