January 2, 2009

How to Protect Your Job in a Recession

The blog Advertising is Good for You linked to a Harvard Business Review article (published September 2008) entitled How to Protect Your Job in a Recession. I thought the article's executive summary had some good advice, so I'm posting it down below. All of the emphases are mine.

As the economy softens, corporate downsizing appears almost inevitable. Don't panic yet, though. While layoff decisions might seem beyond your control, there's plenty you can do to make sure you retain your job. In this article, Banks, a former HR executive at Chase Manhattan and FleetBoston Financial, and Coutu, an HBR senior editor and former affiliate scholar at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, describe how to improve your chances of survival. It's mostly a matter of coolheaded planning, they observe. When cuts loom, the first thing to do is act like a survivor. Be confident and cheerful. Research shows that congeniality trumps competence when push comes to shove. Look to the future by focusing on customers, for without them, no one will have work. Survivors also tend to be versatile; tight budgets demand managers who can wear several hats, so start demonstrating what other capabilities you can offer. If you're, say, a manager who once worked as a teacher, take on a training role. Remember to be a good corporate citizen: Participation matters now more than ever. It isn't the time to behave as if work is beneath you or to argue for a new title. When one executive's department was folded under the management of a less-experienced colleague, she swallowed her pride and wholeheartedly supported the new hierarchy. Her superiors noticed her commitment and eventually rewarded her with a prestigious appointment. It's also important to offer leaders hope and realistic solutions. Energize your colleagues around change, like the VP of learning at a firm undergoing major staff reductions did. He organized a humorous in-house radio show that revived spirits and helped management communicate with employees-and ended up with a promotion.

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