People consistently ask
me, "What can I do to avoid being laid off?" Addressing your productivity at
work is one of the most important steps. This may seen obvious, but if you stop
to think about how much time some of us spend actually working on tasks that
we are being paid for you might be surprised. I do not mean to imply that you
can never have a personal conversation at work. My plan is that you really focus
on doing your work.
There seems to be a level
of denial that occurs when people think their jobs are in jeopardy. Instead
of hunkering down to do more work, they respond by doing everything BUT work!
If you feel the urge to do nothing when you hear the Four Horsepersons of the
Layoffs coming, - - resist, resist!
If your department folds,
or even your company, everyone associated may be laid off. That is beyond your
control. However, if you are known to be efficient, positive and hard working,
you may have some options that are not open to everyone. Like a chance to transfer
to another department, or even a referral for another job that is available
in another company. Your good reputation will have preceded you. If certain
people are being targeted as cost cutting measures or to eliminate duplication
of work you might think there is nothing that you can do. But, in case you still
have time, commit to turning over a new leaf.
Here are some ideas to help
you get started.
Do this First!
The first step is to find
out how you are spending your time. Take out a piece of paper and write down
the hours of the day that you spend at work in fifteen minute increments down
the left had side of the page.
8am - and so on.
Leave this paper where you
can see it during the day to remind you to write down what you have been doing.
Then just go about your day, but write down EVERYTHING! If you spent 30 minutes
chatting with one of your cronies and only get to the work in the last 5 minutes,
that is 5 minutes working! If you have to continually go back through stacks
of papers on your desk to find the same thing instead of filing these items
efficiently the first time, you can only count the amount if time it would take
you to file the papers properly. If you take a ten-minute break every hour to
go get fresh air, or to smoke, you cannot count that time as productive. (You
may still need to do it to keep from going nuts!) Time that you cannot account
for productively cannot be scored as working time. Do this for a week. That's
right a whole week. One day will not give you enough information to determine
how much time you are really spending on productive tasks.
After you have gathered
a week's data add up the amount to time you spend really working. Subtract the
rest of the time spent from the number of hours that you were at work. The difference
may startle you! Remember that one wasted hour each day will result in an average
of 250 hours per year (365 days minus weekends & holidays). 250 hours equals
6.25 WEEKS of work lost each year. That is only for one hour being lost each
week. Scary, isn't it?
Once you find out where
you are in the process, it will be much easier to adjust your schedule to fit
in more "work" time! If other people can hear you having lengthy personal conversations
(cubicles are NOT offices!) they may think that since you are already not doing
anything, when the axe falls that your work will not be missed.
Do this Next!
The second thing is to
make sure other people know that you are doing a great job! Like Alan Weiss
says, "If you don't blow your own horn, there is no music." Working away in
silence may be a time-honored tradition, but it probably will not help keep
you employed. Send your boss a quarterly accomplishment sheet that highlights
projects that you have completed successfully, or are guiding to a brilliant
end! Better yet, send it monthly! Then summarize quarterly. This sheet does
not have elaborate, it should be simple, and done faithfully - just the way
you want to be paid!
Blowing one's horn might
run contrary to your past training in humility. But in this day of bosses who
work in multiple offices or even other countries, if they can't actually see
you working they may not think that you are doing anything! Particularly if
you are working on one large project! If the only time they hear from you is
at completion, you may not get the chance to blow your horn at all. I encourage
you to develop a proper tone for doing this by just listing things that you
have facilitated. If you have helped in other areas like running the United
Way local campaign (at your boss' request) be sure to mention when you have
exceeded last year's donations. Do not mention any one you have had to push
out of the way to get things done. Just say, "Engineering has completed their
portion of the work on schedule," or something else innocuous. You never know
if your boss has family in that department!
Even if your job is already
in line to be eliminated, you will develop positive skills that you can take
somewhere else. Leaving a favorable impression, even when you are laid off has
resulted in several re-hirings that I know of and even in promotions at new
companies when individuals have shown particular professionalism in the face
In case you are wondering
where reading TMG News falls in the work/non-work spectrum…you better believe
it's work, friend!