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How Internal PR May Save Your Job
When working with career transition clients - line managers, project managers, team leads, even senior management - one topic inevitably comes up in the first few weeks: why did you get laid off? The emphasis here is on you. After all, unless the company went entirely out of business, or the entire department was shut down, other employees were kept on, so what did you do (or not do) to find yourself out of a job? And to be sure, plummeting market conditions may well have been the trigger to spark a round of lay-offs… But why you? It’s not a superfluous question at all, nor is it designed to allow the client to wallow in self-pity for a few extra weeks ... No, to be clear, my intent is not to lay blame, or to make my client feel horrible.
The point I try to make: did anyone in charge know exactly what you were doing, and how much value you brought to the company? And if the answer is “No”, then my next question is: why not?
See, this is something nobody tells you outright. It’s not in the small print of your employment letter. It’s not covered in the employee orientation program. And yet it is entirely your responsibility to make sure that the people with hiring and firing power are aware of your contributions. There’s a commonly held belief that “if I do my job well, my boss will notice”; well, it’s not true. Your boss doesn’t have time to notice what you do well. In fact, in line with the 80-20 rule, your boss spends 80% of her time on the 20% of your co-workers who are under-performing. You are simply not even on her radar.
So how do you make sure, that when the managers all sit around a table and discuss who should be let go to meet the corporate goal of “10% cost reduction”, your name is most likely to be stricken off the list of candidates? It’s really very simple, as Dilbert would say “If you’re indispensable, they can’t fire (or promote) you”.
You must step up your efforts to execute a smart Internal PR campaign. You must learn how to educate your boss - and her boss - about all the wonderful, clever, cost-saving, money-making, collaborative, innovative things you do on a daily basis.
For instance: Each time you do something “out of the ordinary” for a co-worker, send them an email thanking them for the opportunity to help out. When the inevitable reply comes thanking you for the help - forward that one to your boss. When you’ve stepped in to turn a tricky or delicate situation with a customer around - whip off an FYI email to your boss, and copy the customer service manager on it (unless they’re the same person) to let them know that you handled the crisis, and saved the day.
Don’t overdo it, and don’t do it for the “normal, every-day” stuff you’re paid to do. Occasionally—say once a month—write a memo about the extra tasks you completed, and, if possible, calculate how much money you saved (or earned) for the company. The better you can demonstrate your value on a regular basis, the less likely the company will be to sacrifice you to the “cost reduction demon”.
Recommended Reading: "BRAG! The Art of Tooting Your Horn Without Blowing It", by Peggy Klaus (ISBN 10:0446692786). Peggy debunks all the myths that keep you from letting people know how well you’re doing. She says: “To brag is to talk about your best self with pride and passion in a conversational manner.” And make no mistake: It’s part of your job to let your boss(es) know what a GREAT job you’re doing. And when your name does come up, the reaction around the table will be: “Heck no, we can’t let [Mike] or [Jane] go! The place would fall apart in days! Pick someone else!
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