Never Assume

It’s a tough time for America and for America’s workforce. We may be a little distracted and a lot frightened by what we see and hear. But in order to stay successful in the long-run, we can’t overreact to the news. Just because some companies are announcing downsizing, don’t assume you will be cut.Just the same, do not assume that your supervisors know what you have accomplished, what you are working on, or even what your primary responsibilities entail. Most managers should be regularly reminded about what you have achieved. This applies whether the company has 100 employees or 10,000.

The lack of knowledge about your activities and achievements is not because your work is unimportant. It simply reflects the fact that they have their own responsibilities to attend to and their bosses to report to. Managers should be told more than just what you have accomplished within the parameters of a specific project or business goal. They should be told what makes you an irreplaceable employee. Does your employer know you are taking after-work courses that will benefit you on the job? Do they know you helped recruit needed workers?

Tackle extra assignments. Employees who simply go through the motions, getting projects done on time but bringing nothing extra to the table, are often the first ones to be targeted in downsizing.

One way to enhance your position is to seek out extra assignments or create your own projects that will help improve the company’s bottom line. Show you boss how your productivity is saving the company money. Office computers being upgraded? Offer to help the IT team set up the computers and install system software. Merger on the horizon? Volunteer to help smooth the transition.

Do not be seen as a virus. Complainers often lead very short lives in corporations. With the economic downturn, there is a lot more to complain about as companies turn more frequently to outsourcing, downsizing and reorganizing. Employees can quickly find themselves doing the job of two people following job cuts. They can also find themselves moved to other areas where they have to learn all new procedures and responsibilities. However, complaints, no matter how seemingly subtle, inconspicuous or even well grounded, will eventually make it back to management and will most likely be looked upon unfavorably.

Management knows that it does not take long for negative sentiment to spread to other individuals, other departments and then possibly to investors.Save, save, save. As profits sink, cost cutting becomes a top priority. Suggest innovative ways that you, your department, or the entire company can save money. Even the smallest and seemingly most insignificant cutback can add up to substantial savings.

In the 1980s, American Airlines’ chief executive Robert Crandell thought to remove just one olive from each dinner salad served to passengers. The move ended up saving the company $40,000 a year.

Give up telecommuting. While companies have in fact found that telecommuters may be more productive than on-site employees, there remains the ever-present problem of, out of sight, out of mind.

You may be delivering out high-quality work from a home office, but being away from the corporate office, where all the decisions are made, can put you at a major disadvantage.

Even those who are in the office two or three days a week including every scheduled team meeting can still miss out on unscheduled and informal, but important, brainstorming sessions and decision making.

Bring the wardrobe up a notch. If everyone else is wearing jeans and golf shirts, come to work in pressed khakis and casual dress shirt. If everyone wears khakis, step up to dress slacks.

Dot.coms helped bring about the trend of workplaces going increasingly casual. It has gotten to the point that some consider torn jeans and T-shirts to be acceptable office attire.

However, with the downfall of dot.coms, many companies are rethinking many of the policies spawned in these firms. Even leaders of surviving Internet firms are taking a more formal approach to dress, in an effort to impart a more serious attitude to wary investors and other business partners.

As a rank-and-file employee, particularly one who rarely sees customers or business partners, it can be easy to underestimate the value of improving dress or resolve that appearance does not reflect your skill and/or work ethic. In a situation where downsizing is highly probable, you do not want to be just another face in the crowd – this only makes it easier for supervisors to group you with everyone else as they plan discharges.

You want to stand out among your peers — in a positive way. This goes for work ethic, but it also goes for appearance. The way you dress sends a strong message that you are serious about the work you do.

–The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not represent the views of, The Trader Publishing Company, or its approval of the opinions expressed therein.

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