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Secrets of Success

The Words No One Wants To Hear

The words frighten us.

They’re not the words we want to hear.

Many of us spend more and more of our time thinking about whether or not we are going to hear them.

And what we’ll do if we do hear them.

We know others who have already heard the words.

The dreaded words -“Laid off”

Who will hear them, how to keep from hearing them, and what to do if you do hear them is the focus of this article.

Who Will Hear The Words

In my almost 40 years in the world of work, I’ve had ample opportunity to watch people being laid off.

For over thirty years, I’ve helped employers plan and carry out layoffs. I’ve worked with over a thousand people who have been laid off (or fired).

So, unfortunately, I know a good deal about this subject.

This is what I have observed. Layoffs go through three stages. The stages affect employees differently depending upon their status in the organization.

The first stage of layoffs is often a form of “pruning” that affects the marginally productive. When businesses are really busy and the talent pool is limited, employers will often hire just to have someone in a position. As business slows, employers look at their bottom line and begin to think long and hard about who they really need and who is expendable.

Though some people are losing their jobs because there’s simply not enough work, mixed in with this group are people who should have already been let go. The employer didn’t want to hurt their feelings and could afford to keep them when business was good, so the employee stayed. As business slowed, there was simply no reason to keep these people on the payroll.

The second stage is a real layoff and can affect very productive people who may have been employed for a significant amount of time. As work slows, employers are forced to make tough choices between good people. Special attention needs to be paid not only to parting company in a humane way but making sure that the remaining workers are not functioning in a state of constant anxiety about the status of their jobs.

The third stage is where it gets tricky. This layoff affects the most talented workers on the payroll and is possibly the last reduction in force the employer will be able to make. The goal is to not cut into the talent pool too deeply. If employers do, they may not be in a position to adequately serve their customers and properly reach out to potential clients.

How to Keep from Hearing The Words

The best way to avoid being asked to leave may hinge on making sure you’re not one of the two types of people with a target on their back.

Two types that are vulnerable are the unproductive people and the whiners/trouble makers.

If you are perceived as one or the other, you could be in trouble.

You want to be seen as a problem solver not a problem. Complaining, criticizing, gossiping, not following directions, arguing and other negative behaviors not only waste time they drain energy.

Each day you should be focusing on showing your employer how you are solving problems, meeting needs, saving them money, and/or making them money. That’s what productive people do.

There are simply too many workers available who work hard and don’t complain to put up with people who do.

To paraphrase your mother, “If you don’t stop whining, your boss might very well give you something to whine about (the loss of your job).”

What to Do if You Do Hear The Words

If you are laid off, it’s helpful to know people are getting jobs. I know this for a fact because I have a very active outplacement practice and I see clients getting jobs.

The normal events that create jobs are still in play. People move, they quit, they get promoted, they get sick or injured, they go on maternity leave and decide not to return and, believe it or not, some employers are doing quite well and need to add employees.

Because jobs open and close on a random basis, there are always jobs.

It is also important to remember that while there are lots of books available and resources on line to help, many of us go to the worst places for accurate information—friends, relatives, and the media.

Friends and relatives, well meaning as they might be, often have no idea how to effectively look for work. But since you may feel very vulnerable and uncertain, you may not be able to tell the difference between their well-meaning suggestions and ideas that will actually work.

The media is a problem all its own. There is simply not enough going on to make “news” 24 hours a day. The media used to report the news. Now it spends most of its time creating and commenting on the news and turning every event into a story. Rather than reacting to what you hear or read, you should be developing a plan.

The plan should include a thorough inventory of your skills and talents and lots and lots of time reaching out to anyone who knows you well enough to misspell your name.

The one thing all these successful people have in common is a clear focus and willingness to work hard at job-hunting until they are rehired.

The hope is you will be able to stay in your current job and weather this storm.

But in this time where uncertainty rules, it is important to have both a plan to stay as well as a plan to successfully leave.

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CTS Consulting, Inc

3126 Berkshire Road

Baltimore, Maryland 21214

phone 410-444-5857

cell 443-286-2488