Posted by Brian McCullough
The Late Surge Technique
So far we’ve discussed how to anticipate layoffs, and we’ve outlined strategic moves you can make to align yourself with the likely survivors of any downsizing. Today we’re going to discuss the most effective way to brand yourself as one of those survivors.
As we discussed yesterday, organizations downsize with the mindset of temporary survival. They want to cut as much “fat” as they can without eliminating key elements that will ensure long-term success. And they especially don’t want to cut the very things that might help them out of this downturn.
Organizations have the same philosophy when it comes to personnel. The jobs that will always be safe fall into two categories: those people who management feels are absolutely essential and those people who management feels will contribute most effectively to the turnaround. Obviously, you want to be in one of those two categories.
If you’re already sure you’re essential personnel, congratulations.
But for the rest of us – and for a little insurance as well – the best thing you can do is pile up your accomplishments fast.
Deciding who will stay and who will be let go is very much a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately scenario. Don’t expect your reputation or your previous accolades to help you. Remember, management wants to keep people they feel will help them turn their fortunes around, and fast. Who would you keep? The guy who has always been a top contributor but has suffered from the downturn along with everyone else; or the gal who has been on a hot streak lately, is full of great ideas and seems immune to difficult circumstances.
- Try to time everything to turn up aces for you all at once.
- Take credit for every success you can.
- If you can bring the biggest sale of the year in, now is the time to do it.
- If there are big projects still outstanding, redouble your efforts to bring them in early and under budget.
- You want to look like all of the sudden you can perform miracles.
- You’ll look like a genius if you get proactive. Initiate cost-saving measures in your own division even before such initiatives go company-wide.
- Start writing memos. Generate unsolicited turnaround or cost-cutting plans and pitch them to your bosses.
- If you have any chits outstanding, call them in. What a coincidence! Your boss just got a call this afternoon from the company’s number one client, and he was singing your praises! Said he couldn’t imagine working with anyone else.
- Don’t be above timing things to your benefit. The best time to suddenly deliver a string of successes is two weeks (not two months) before layoff decisions are made.
Just as it’s important to be in a position that seems essential (and therefore, un-cuttable) there’s no better time than in the midst of downsizing to seem like a winner. Do what you can to burnish your reputation – and do so with immediacy – and you’ll likely be one of the survivors. Layoffs happen because the business is on a cold streak; those who keep their jobs are the ones who look like they have the mojo to turn that cold streak hot.