What it takes to be layoff-proof
By Anita Bruzzese
Gannett News Service
Is there any way to escape a layoff? Well, you could try hiding under your desk hoping they literally can't find you to give you the pink slip. Or you could take the opposite approach and be out there doing everything you can to call attention to yourself.
Of course, this is a strategy that works only if you garner the spotlight because you're doing a good job not because you beat solitaire 10 times in a row on your company computer.
Making yourself layoff-proof takes more than just putting in your hours every week. It means that when the company brass is considering who stays and who goes, a stellar performance is one that cannot be discounted. The employee who will keep the job will be the employee who has consistently proven his or her worth to the company's bottom line in the past.
But how do you concentrate on proving yourself when you fear you won't be able to make your next car payment, when you fear a layoff may be headed your way? Consider these coping strategies that not only bolster management's opinion of you, but also keep you from panicking:
Stay focused. It's difficult when the smell of layoffs is in the air. The bosses are tense, regional management has come to town, and the whining and grumbling among the ranks is swelling. That's when you decide what you want out of your day. Do you want to shuffle papers, feeling sorry for yourself and trying to decide exactly when the ax will fall? Or do you see this as a challenge to continue to live up to solid work standards, doing your job to the best of your ability and getting something accomplished each day that you can be proud of? Hey, even if you only return all your phone calls and messages, or perhaps organize your filing system, you've stayed on top of the job, and that is action noticed by management. Plus, it can go a long way to improving your own mood.
Keep your feet on the floor. Don't use the office copy machine for your resumes, don't start pilfering office supplies, don't schedule interviews on company time or use company e-mail or phones. Having one foot out the door is easily detectable, and bosses may decide to go ahead and give you the final push.
Avoid negativity. At a time when things are rocky, it's very easy to fall into the trap of badmouthing anything and everything that moves at your company. You may think you are being discreet, but any grumbling will be heard by supervisors and they sure don't want gripers to stick around when they're choosing who stays and who goes. If you need to vent, do it at home with trusted friends or family. Don't be drawn into negative discussions at work find other places to be or things to do.
Speak up. Let the boss know that you believe in her and the company, and that you're willing to help her out in any way possible. You want to be seen as loyal, hard-working and committed to a positive outcome. Remind the manager of your contributions, the skills you bring to the job. Especially important is the knowledge of other departments, or the ability to step in and help problem-solve. The person with the most to offer will be chosen over those with more limited abilities.
Don't burn bridges. Even if you are laid off, don't use it as a chance to tell off the boss or co-worker. Those who are laid off are often recalled to the same company when things improve.