Your future rests on your shoulders..not someone else’s. Yes, there are times when massive downsizing or even closures occurs ( ala Hostess Brands or American Airlines), and you may be handed a pink slip, but generally, others are not going to hand you a job/promotion/raise out of the blue. In most cases, when downsizing occurs, senior management makes the decision on who stays and who goes based upon some value judgment of a particular person’s worth.
To make things more difficult, each manager has a different definition and set of expectations for “value”.
So with all this confusion, how can you ensure not only your job stability but your future career growth? You do this by ensuring that you become a “high value” employee. Even in the worst economy, “high value” workers have jobs and get new jobs. Value succeeds no matter the economic times. Looking back in history, companies have formed (and thrived) during economic downturns because they provided value –
- FedEx – the oil crisis of 1973. Their value? Package delivery in 1-2 days.
- IBM – the “Long Depression” of 1873 to 1896. Their value? Worker’s time clock, tabulating machine, etc.
- Ocean Spray Cranberries – the Great Depression. Their value? New and innovative products made from cranberries.
Value is everywhere. Astute employees, like the astute companies above, know that there are things that they need to do to guarantee success during tough economic times.
1) Go beyond the bullet-points in your job description. Nothing is worse than having an employee or a job candidate pull out the job description (either physically or metaphorically) and say “that is not what I am paid to do”. You need to go beyond the standard (and the status quo) just like the three companies above. Not only do you need to perform on every aspect of your job, you need to embrace all the intangible aspects too. Meeting deadlines, being on time to work, appropriate worksite behavior, honesty, and being proactive are all behaviors that will improve your value.
2) Show support and give credit where credit is due. No one is an “island unto themselves”. You cannot be successful on your own. You have had help getting to where you are …no matter what you do. In addition, there are people around you right now who are contributing to your current success. Give them credit. Do not “toot your own horn” to the point that you block out everyone else’s contribution. When you recognize others for their contribution, they are more than likely to sound your praises in return. This adds value in others’ eyes.
3) Tolerate company idiosyncrasies and embrace your workplace. Every company has something strange about it. Usually there is something trivial about the way that a company operates –its processes, its employees, etc. – that bothers you. Look past it. Like everything in life, nothing is perfect. Tolerance is the stamp of a high-value employee. Whining, complaining and antagonism are not. The more you fight and complain about the people, places and things found in your workplace, the more removed you are from the workplace. When this happens, you are not viewed as being “valuable”. Value is added by the proactive, team-oriented changes you undertake on the behalf of the company as a whole, not by constant complaints and nitpicking.
Remember, your value is not determined by you. You cannot tell everyone how valuable you are or how valuable you should be. Your perceptions regarding your work ethic, your results and your accomplishments do not matter. It is others’ perceptions that matter. So find out what others expect of you and learn how they define “value” so you can work towards it. You will become a “high-value” employee when you can deliver on this expectation.
By Christiane Soto, Snelling.com
NOTE: A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.