Ninety percent of our eligible workforce remains employed even though we are currently experiencing the worst unemployment rate in 26 years. Stress levels are high during this time of economic uncertainty--and not just for those who are laid off. Unfortunately psychological stress can sometimes lead to negative behavior. A study conducted by Adecco this year indicates that employees are willing to go the extra mile to do what it takes to stay in their jobs at this time. However, "the extra mile" in this case actually includes things like blackmail. The study shows that 28 percent of individuals are willing to blame co-workers for mistakes, blackmail, and even flirt with superiors.
This statistic inspired me to share strategies to help you stay employed without engaging in indecent proposals. These suggestions are particularly appropriate for those with career lives in the corporate arena.
1. Be the solution
Your company is looking to you as an employee to help solve problems even when times are great. In the current economic climate one way to help yourself go beyond the call of duty is to uncover and solve a particularly challenging problem or situation, particularly if it could help save your company money. Of course, the way to showcase yourself will be to identify an issue that will call on you to execute the skills you want most to shine. Creating a win-win situation like this helps to position you as indispensable. One cautionary note: In engaging in this strategy you do want to ensure that you are not going to step on anyone's toes in the process.
2. Record Peak Accomplishments
It is in your best interest to record you peak accomplishments regardless of the economy or stress that companies face. However, in our current economic climate it is even more important to keep diligent track of how your contributions affect the company's bottom line. In one of my Lessons From My Recruiting Desk articles I outlined these examples:
Marketing: How can you quantify leads that got generated through marketing campaigns you executed? How can you quantify money you saved or helped generate based on your marketing analysis.
Product Development: What kind of revenue was generated by new product launches?
Project Management: How can you quantify in a dollar amount time you saved on a project?
Administrative: Perhaps you supported a boss who was a key player in the sales department and can illustrate how you provided the expertise to help a system run more efficiently, which saved your boss more time to go out and close additional sales.
3. Go the Extra Mile
Accepting additional tasks or lending a hand to departments in need shows your initiative and desire for more responsibility. I recently had a client whose star employee needed to be borrowed by a department that was short staffed. This allowed the employee to showcase herself, which resulted in a promotion into the department where she was "borrowed." My client was not thrilled about losing his star employee but she enthusiastically supported her promotion.
4. Ensure that they know you.
Depending on the size of your company there is a good chance that you don't often cross paths with the "C" level executives. Let's face it, only a few of us get to spend any significant time on THEIR floor. As a result some of these executives don't know who you are. However, during tough times it helps if they do. Therefore, I encourage you to ensure that you are networking internally. If your company has "optional" meetings, receptions, lectures, etc, attend them. If the opportunity arises introduce yourself or send an e-mail following a lecture to thank the executive who conducted it. Some of you out there see these acts as "kissing up." I encourage you to choose to look at it as expanding your connections. Even if a pink slip lands on your desk these are the kinds of network connections that may be able to help you move forward in your career.
5. Avoid being managed
Feedback is a natural part of working relationships and management. However, a less than "enlightened" manager may use it as a deciding factor in a lay-off. It is possible that the employee who has to be managed less will be looked at as a greater asset to a company during tough times. Ensure that your boss trusts that when tasks/projects are assigned you will be fully engaged from execution to completion.
It has often been said that our greatest challenges can bring our greatest opportunities for growth. However, leveraging any challenge for growth requires integrity and self-management. Self management includes engaging in the strategies outlined here along with general stress management exercises including regular exercising, meditating, and refraining from gossip . These can all go a long way in ensuring that you remain calm and successful in your current position and avoid relegating to some of the less than desirable behaviors that have been illustrated during these uncertain times.
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