Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 5;   February 4, 2009: How to Avoid a Layoff: Your Relationships

How to Avoid a Layoff: Your Relationships

by

In troubled economic times, layoffs loom almost everywhere. Here are some tips for reconfiguring your relationships with others at work and at home to reduce the chances that you will be laid off.
A pipe tomahawk dating to 1740-1780

A pipe tomahawk dating to 1740-1780. This weapon has a steel head, probably of European or colonial manufacture. Prior to the arrival of Europeans in North America, tomahawks had stone heads, and pipe tomahawks were much more rare. The ritual of burying the hatchet probably involved not hatchets, but tomahawks and other weaponry, usually contributed by both sides. The ritual might have signified peace, but more often it meant merely a cessation of hostilities. In the modern workplace, we have no ritual for ending quarrels and feuds, but we would surely benefit from the adoption of something formal. The power of ritual, especially one witnessed by many people in addition to the parties to the conflict, would add durability to the cessation of hostilities. Photo courtesy U.S. National Park Service.

During any economic contraction, layoffs are in the air. If you still have a job, you've probably worried about layoffs. Fortunately, there's more you can do than worry. You can actually take steps in three areas: your own frame of mind, your relationships and your situation. Last week we dealt with frame of mind. Next week, we'll address ways to improve your situation. Today, we examine relationships.

Make job security a family effort
Involve the entire family in the effort to keep you employed. To enhance your sense of financial security, reduce family expenses in ways that don't materially affect happiness. Everyone can help, by reducing expenditures, downsizing wants, and disclosing needs before they become expensive emergencies.
Bury the hatchet and look the other way
Now is not the time for workplace feuds and duels. Do what you can to be easy to work with, to be cooperative and flexible. If you have enemies of long standing, think about ways to patch things up. Certainly do nothing to create any new problems.
Create solutions for your boss
The quality of your relationship with your boss can determine your longevity on the job. Go beyond avoiding creating problems for your boss — create solutions. Of course, in doing so, take care not to overstep the bounds of your job. Become known for getting things done with dispatch.
Beware workplace romance
Almost always a bad idea, workplace romance is an especially bad idea now. While they last, romances can create trouble with colleagues, and even more trouble when they end. If you haven't started one yet, don't. If you're in one, have a chat about the extreme importance of discretion.
Participate in local chapters of professional societies
Usually this is a one-evening-a-month commitment. Not much, but it can be important in keeping you attuned to conditions, and keeping you in touch with your network. You'll gain valuable information while you build a support structure you might someday need yourself if the worst happens.
Now is not the time for
workplace feuds and duels.
Do what you can to
be easy to work with.
Keep your internal network strong
Now more than ever, it's important to know what's happening in your organization. Attend to your internal network. Make new contacts and refresh existing contacts. Use social networking tools like LinkedIn and Twitter as internal networking tools.
Keep your external network strong
Your external network is not just a source of job leads when you need them. It's also a source of information about the place where you now work, and conditions in your industry. And people in your network need your help too. No doubt you have already received, or soon will receive, requests for references. Help whenever you can. If you want your network to support you someday, keep (or start) supporting it now.

Next time we'll examine strategies and tactics for strengthening your position at work. First in this series  Next in this series  Go to top Top  Next issue: How to Avoid a Layoff: Your Situation  Next Issue

303 Secrets of Workplace PoliticsIs every other day a tense, anxious, angry misery as you watch people around you, who couldn't even think their way through a game of Jacks, win at workplace politics and steal the credit and glory for just about everyone's best work including yours? Read 303 Secrets of Workplace Politics, filled with tips and techniques for succeeding in workplace politics. More info

Your comments are welcome

Would you like to see your comments posted here? rbrenoIMMzaGlBvgsBGIHner@ChacAQtNAUxXUUyleEIQoCanyon.comSend me your comments by email, or by Web form.

About Point Lookout

Thank you for reading this article. I hope you enjoyed it and found it useful, and that you'll consider recommending it to a friend.

Point Lookout is a free weekly email newsletter. Browse the archive of past issues. Subscribe for free.

Support Point Lookout by joining the Friends of Point Lookout, as an individual or as an organization.

Do you face a complex interpersonal situation? Send it in, anonymously if you like, and I'll give you my two cents.

Related articles

More articles on Emotions at Work:

A shouting matchAvoid Typing Under the Influence
When we communicate, we can't control how other people interpret our communications. Accidental offense is inevitable, and email is especially likely to produce examples of this problem. What can we do as members of electronic communities when trouble erupts?
An airport ticket counterWhen You Travel Alone
Many of us travel as a part of our jobs, and some of us spend a fair amount of that time traveling solo. Here are some tips for enlivening that time alone while you're traveling for work.
Baron Joseph Lister (1827-1912)Good Change, Bad Change: Part I
Change is all around. Some changes are welcome and some not, but when we distinguish good change from bad, we often get it wrong. Why?
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond OdiernoWhen Change Is Hard: Part I
Sometimes changing organizations goes smoothly. More often, it doesn't. Whatever methodology we use — and there are many methodologies available — difficulties can arise. When change is hard, what's happening? What makes change hard?
Brian Urquhart of the Office of the UN Under-Secretaries Without Porfolios. (1 January 1956)Staying in Abilene
A "Trip to Abilene," identified by Jerry Harvey, is a group decision to undertake an effort that no group members believe in. Extending the concept slightly, "Staying in Abilene" happens when groups fail even to consider changing something that everyone would agree needs changing.

See also Emotions at Work and Managing Your Boss for more related articles.

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A vizsla in a pose called the play bowComing April 26: Why Dogs Make the Best Teammates
Dogs make great teammates. It's in their constitutions. We can learn a lot from dogs about being good teammates. Available here and by RSS on April 26.
A business meetingAnd on May 3: Start the Meeting with a Check-In
Check-ins give meeting attendees a chance to express satisfaction or surface concerns about how things are going. They're a valuable aid to groups that want to stay on course, or get back on course when needed. Available here and by RSS on May 3.

Coaching services

I offer email and telephone coaching at both corporate and individual rates. Contact Rick for details at rbrenVBRnEGTbuXqukcYXner@ChacuOVLPLOPZPlISysRoCanyon.com or (617) 491-6289, or toll-free in the continental US at (866) 378-5470.

Get the ebook!

Past issues of Point Lookout are available in six ebooks:

Reprinting this article

Are you a writer, editor or publisher on deadline? Are you looking for an article that will get people talking and get compliments flying your way? You can have 500 words in your inbox in one hour. License any article from this Web site. More info

Public seminars

Changing How We Change: The Essence of Agility
MasteChanging How We Change: The Essence of Agilityry of the ability to adapt to unpredictable and changing circumstances is one way of understanding the success of Agile methodologies for product development. Applying the principles of Change Mastery, we can provide the analogous benefits in a larger arena. By exploring strategies and tactics for enhancing both the resilience and adaptability of projects and portfolios, we show why agile methodologies are so powerful, and how to extend them beyond product development to efforts of all kinds. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Creating High Performance Virtual Teams
Many Creating High Performance Virtual Teamspeople experience virtual teams as awkward, slow, and sometimes frustrating. Even when most team members hail from the same nation or culture, and even when they all speak the same language, geographic dispersion or the presence of employees from multiple enterprises is often enough to exclude all possibility of high performance. The problem is that we lead, manage, and support virtual teams in ways that are too much like the way we lead, manage, and support co-located teams. In this program, Rick Brenner shows you how to change your approach to leading, managing, and supporting virtual teams to achieve high performance using Simons' Four Spans model of high performance. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

The Race to the South Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers
On 14The Race to the Pole: Ten Lessons for Project Managers December 1911, four men led by Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole. Thirty-five days later, Robert F. Scott and four others followed. Amundsen had won the race to the pole. Amundsen's party returned to base on 26 January 1912. Scott's party perished. As historical drama, why this happened is interesting enough, but to organizational leaders, business analysts, project sponsors, and project managers, the story is fascinating. Lessons abound. Read more about this program. Here's an upcoming date for this program:

Follow Rick

Send email or subscribe to one of my newsletters Follow me at LinkedIn Follow me at Twitter, or share a tweet Follow me at Google+ or share a post Subscribe to RSS feeds Subscribe to RSS feeds
The message of Point Lookout is unique. Help get the message out. Please donate to help keep Point Lookout available for free to everyone.
21st Century Business TravelAre your business trips long chains of stressful misadventures? Have you ever wondered if there's a better way to get from here to there relaxed and refreshed? First class travel is one alternative, but you can do almost as well (without the high costs) if you know the tricks of the masters of 21st-century e-enabled business travel…
Go For It: Sometimes It's Easier If You RunBad boss, long commute, troubling ethical questions, hateful colleague? Learn what we can do when we love the work but not the job.
303 Tips for Virtual and Global TeamsLearn how to make your virtual global team sing.
101 Tips for Managing ChangeAre you managing a change effort that faces rampant cynicism, passive non-cooperation, or maybe even outright revolt?
101 Tips for Effective MeetingsLearn how to make meetings more productive — and more rare.
Exchange your "personal trade secrets" — the tips, tricks and techniques that make you an ace — with other aces, anonymously. Visit the Library of Personal Trade Secrets.