Point Lookout: a free weekly publication of Chaco Canyon Consulting
Volume 9, Issue 4;   January 28, 2009:

How to Avoid a Layoff: The Inside Stuff

by

These are troubled economic times. Layoffs are becoming increasingly common. Here are some tips for changing your frame of mind to help reduce the chances that you will be laid off.
The Purchasing Managers Index

Recent data for the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which is a composite index based on new orders, inventory levels, production, supplier deliveries, and the employment environment. The index for December 2008 was 32.4, which indicates strong economic contraction. The Backlog of Orders Index is at the lowest level since tracking began in January 1993. The steady stream of news reports on data such as this is of course depressing, but most news outlets don't show readers and viewers the graphics that go along with the data. When you look at the graphs, you'll get a much clearer picture of where we are. Knowledge is power. Check out the data from the New York Federal Reserve Bank. Graphic courtesy The Institute for Supply Management.

The anticipatory layoff — one executed by a profitable company that isn't yet in trouble — is an important difference between the current economic crisis and past slowdowns. That's why, as an employee, preparing for layoffs is smart strategy now, even if your own company is doing well so far.

If you don't want to be among those designated for layoff, there are things you can start doing now to enhance your chances of continued employment. I've organized them into three categories. The inside stuff includes actions you can take to strengthen your frame of mind and help you maintain a positive attitude. Relationship-oriented actions include things to do that involve your relationships with colleagues, co-workers and others. And situational actions include things to do and decisions to make that pertain to your general situation at work.

Here are some tips for strengthening yourself emotionally to make your attitude more positive and appealing to those around you.

Attend to your health
If you're healthy, you feel better emotionally. Exploit your health insurance, if you have it, to get minor things taken care of. Smoking cessation is especially useful, because it helps your health, and makes you more attractive as an employee, and saves lots of cash. But don't do anything elective that will keep you out of work for extended periods, because despite any legal protections, being out on sick leave can make you more vulnerable to layoff.
Attend to your finances
Whatever might happen, you'll deal with it better if your finances are in good shape. Some signs of trouble: carrying balances on credit cards, bills in arrears, and phone calls from creditors. If you have chronic financial problems, recognize that you need advice and counseling — and get help from a reputable non-commercial agency. If part of the problem is marital, seek counseling for that, too.
Work-life balance might now mean longer hours
In good times, working long hours threatens happiness at home. But in troubled times, losing your job altogether is a greater threat to home life. If you think that working longer hours will help make you more valuable than your co-workers, get the support of your family and go for it.
Keep your personal troubles private
Foreclosure, divorce, illness, family problems — keep all of it private. When managers select people to terminate, they sometimes consider personal stability. Telling people about your personal problems probably won't help you keep your job. If you need to talk to someone, and family isn't enough, seek a counselor or a therapist.
Telling people about
your personal problems
probably won't help
you keep your job

Most important, be the most positive person you know. This is more than just acting as if you have a positive attitude. You must be positive. Do whatever you can do to make your job, your finances, your family and your social situation as secure as they can be.

We'll address tips for relationships next time.  Next in this series Go to top Top  Next issue: How to Avoid a Layoff: Your Relationships  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

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

A demanding managerComing April 14: What Micromanaging Is and Isn't
Micromanaging is a particularly dysfunctional pattern of management behavior, involving interference in the work others are supposedly doing. Confusion about what it is and what it isn't makes effective response difficult. Available here and by RSS on April 14.
A possibly difficult choiceAnd on April 21: Choice-Supportive Bias
Choice-supportive bias is a cognitive bias that causes us to evaluate our past choices as more fitting than they actually were. The erroneous judgments it produces can be especially costly to organizations interested in improving decision processes. Available here and by RSS on April 21.

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Many The Power Affect: How We Express Personal Powerpeople who possess real organizational power have a characteristic demeanor. It's the way they project their presence. I call this the power affect. Some people — call them power pretenders — adopt the power affect well before they attain significant organizational power. Unfortunately for their colleagues, and for their organizations, power pretenders can attain organizational power out of proportion to their merit or abilities. Understanding the power affect is therefore important for anyone who aims to attain power, or anyone who works with power pretenders. Read more about this program.

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