In a stormy economic climate, you need to have your life-raft ready. We ask the experts for smart strategies to make you indispensable in the workplace.
Blow Your Own Trumpet
“Unless you speak up for yourself, your talents may go unnoticed,” says career coach Corinne Mills. Whether you were a key part of bringing a new customer on board, or you implemented a time-saving filing system, let your boss know.
Smart Strategy: Use meetings with your boss to pass on good news and flag your work achievements. “If you get great feedback, let the relevant people know,” Corinne says.
Be A Money-Maker
“Cost saving is fine, but it won’t distance you from the pack,” says career expert John Lees. “If you can identify an area to increase capital, you’re going to be very popular.”
Smart Strategy: Look for ways of boosting revenue – this might mean passing one of your contacts on to the sales team, or reading about a new possible customer. “Look at which business sectors are doing well,” advises John. “It would give you an idea of new areas to start targeting.”
Seek Out ‘The Influencers’
Every organisation has them – those people who’ve got the ear of the chief exec, or just the people whose opinion, for whatever reason, carries a lot of weight.
Smart Strategy: Make contact! “If you are on a similar level of seniority, then do coffee,” suggests Corinne. “If not, try to engineer a way of working with them – volunteer for a cross-department project they’re involved with, or ask them to be your mentor.” Go carefully though, as heavy-handedness could annoy your colleagues, but ultimately you’re the one responsible for your job security, not them.
Work Smart, Not Hard
“The problem with working all hours is that you tend to lose perspective and work on things that don’t make any impact,” says John. “You’re more likely to get noticed doing something unusual or working on things deemed to be important.”
Smart Strategy: Get inside your company’s head. Use your development or performance review to ask your boss about the company’s plans, advises John. “How does it intend to ride out the storm and what areas of work is it focusing on over the next few years? Try to get involved in projects and ideas that connect to this future plan.”
Have A Positive Attitude
Projecting a can-do attitude is appealing to any boss. Being resilient and positive shows you’re the kind of person they could do with during this turbulent period,” says Corinne.
Smart Strategy: “Have an honest discussion with your manager and explain that while you realise they can’t make any promises, you enjoy working for the company, you’re flexible and keen to help in any area,” she advises. “Volunteer when you see opportunities. It might be a joint working group, an organisational review, or even mentoring someone. Not only will it prove your commitment, it will boost your profile.” Likewise, don’t become associated with the office moaners. “If they see you as someone who influences in a positive way, your manager may even give your more responsibility,” says Corinne.
“It’s much easier to open doors if you’ve already warmed up your connections,” says John. Start taking the opportunity to talk to key people within and outside of your company.
Smart Strategy: Corinne suggests familiarising yourself with other departments in the company. “Forging strong relationships now will work in your favour, because should your position go, they may have something within their team or know someone outside they can put you in touch with,” she says. “Start having longer chats with customers or suppliers, and build up relationships with anyone you meet outside your company.”
Have A ‘Plan B’
Sometimes, despite your best efforts, your job may not be safe. “Preparation is the key,” says Corinne. “The more prepared you are, the easier you’ll find it.”
Smart Strategy: Think about what you’d do if your job disappeared tomorrow, she advises. “Look at relevant job ads to identify the skills you need and fill any gaps as soon as possible. It might mean evening classes or taking annual leave to do a course. Finally, get your CV in shape, so it’s ready if you need it. Most importantly, leave as positively as you can. Your employer could be rehiring next year.”
By Karla Napoleon