I Have a Job; Now How Do I Keep It?

This article is in response to the previous two month’s columns in which we determined ways that companies could retain their key employees. This month we delve into what everyone is talking about and fearing: How Do I Keep My Job?

Given today’s economic climate and uncertainty, it is much different than it was even six months ago when job-seekers had choices as to positions and companies to consider. Today, there are few good choices within our industry. Things will of course change; but for those of us without the crystal ball, it could be as optimistic as six months or pessimistic as 24 months or longer.

For those reasons, employees today need to be ever cognizant of their standings within their company and continue upon that. Everyone can do some simple things to set themselves apart in these uncertain times. You need to feed yourself and your family, you need to pay the rent/mortgage, you want nice toys, etc. Many people are in survival mode and they don’t feel necessarily safe in their current situations. Now, you need to do whatever it takes to make yourself indispensable. Keep in mind: If you don’t, someone else will.

We have all seen our companies do more with less. This means more work with less people. Some companies have had to do away with the ‘luxury’ employees (e.g., operations managers, assistant managers, utility players, extra office personnel) in order to survive. Someone has to pick up the slack, right? Welcome to Reality 2009. It’s not going to change soon so here are the
things to do to keep your job:

Do your job-and then some. It is now expected for everyone to go above and beyond what they did last year. For the Manager: It’s your show-you better figure out what works and doesn’t and then take action. For the Outside Salesperson: Get to know your customers better. Really try to find out why they buy from your competitors. Now is the time to figure out whether it is price, service, personality, trips or lunches that keep them coming back-or going back to your competitors. For the Inside & Counterpersons: Make your customers remember you and your service. For example, if you are deemed the ‘Funny One’, you better make sure that you are the
‘funny guy’ that they respect and buy from. I was taught many years ago that if you have a jerk for a customer, make him your jerk. For the Drivers & Warehouse folks, you are still key to your organization. Filling orders correctly the first time and getting the material to the jobsite on time are critical to success.

Your Manager is looking at you for initiative. Be seen often. Do your job and then ask what else you can do. Again, you want to be the one that when you return from vacation, people are truly glad you’re back because of the quality of job that you do. Challenge yourself in learning new products and specialize in something or take on new responsibilities. Listen to your customers. What do they want? Figure out how to deliver that and you will be far ahead of the competition.

Don’t complain. Everyone is in the same situation. Badmouthing and negativity will only do harm. Make it your goal to work well with your team, reps and customers and to avoid confrontations. Choose your battles carefully. When in doubt, keep repeating over and over: “I’m lucky to have this job” or “It could be worse; I could be unemployed.”

Treat everyone with respect, no gossiping and stay away from the inevitable office politics. It’s ok to realize that they are there-just don’t get mixed up in them. Have a ‘Whatever-it-takes’ attitude and this will get you positively noticed when it counts.

No Excuses. Be prompt to work, don’t procrastinate, admit mistakes when made and move on. Diligence and hard work should be enough to keep you around. However, since this isn’t fantasyland but reality, be keenly aware of happenings within your company and the industry as a whole. This way, you won’t be caught off guard should something unfortunate happen to your position.

Finally, a word from Vince Lombardi: “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm”.

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