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

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When projects overrun their budgets and/or schedules, we sometimes "downscope" to save time and money. The tactic can succeed — and fail. Three common anti-patterns involve politics, the sunk cost effect, and cognitive biases that distort estimates. Available here and by RSS on October 5.
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We sometimes "downscope" projects to bring them back on budget and schedule when they're headed for overruns. Downscoping doesn't always work. Cognitive biases like the sunk cost effect and confirmation bias can distort decisions about how to downscope. Available here and by RSS on October 12.

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