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

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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When we express our ideas, we can usually choose between a positive construction and a negative one. We can advocate for one path, or against another. Even though these choices have nearly identical literal meanings, positive constructions are safer in tense situations.
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When we depend on praise, positive support or consumption to feel good, we're giving other people or things power over us. Finding within ourselves whatever we need to feel good about ourselves is one path to autonomy and freedom.
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Heated exchanges in meetings are expensive to both the organizational mission and to the careers of the meeting's participants. Preventing them — or dealing with them when they happen — is everyone's job. But what can you do when they persist?

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

Forthcoming issues of Point Lookout

Children playing a computer gameComing July 18: High Falutin' Goofy Talk: III
Workplace speech and writing sometimes strays into the land of pretentious but overused business phrases, which I like to call high falutin' goofy talk. We use these phrases with perhaps less thought than they deserve, because they can be trite or can evoke indecorous images. Here's Part III of a collection of phrases and images to avoid. Available here and by RSS on July 18.
Office equipment — or is it office toys?And on July 25: Exploiting Functional Fixedness: II
A cognitive bias called functional fixedness causes difficulty in recognizing new uses for familiar things. It also makes for difficulty in recognizing devious uses of everyday behaviors. Here's Part II of a catalog of deviousness based on functional fixedness. Available here and by RSS on July 25.

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On 14The Race to the Pole: An Application of Agile Development 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. Lessons abound. Among the more important lessons are those that demonstrate the power of the agile approach to project management and product development. Read more about this program. Here's a date for this program:

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