I was recently having dinner with a group of friends when one asked another why she had not been returning calls and missed our last dinner! Astra explained that she was experiencing a rough time at work. Her company was downsizing a large number of people and it had caused her so much stress that she was frozen in fear and could not even socialize. When I asked her what she was doing to prepare for the eventuality of losing her job due to downsizing, she became angry and told me she was working hard and keeping her head down and was not prepared to sneak around behind her employers back to look for a job.
Joe has been working with his company for 10 years as a senior manager; the company was closing due to extreme financial difficulties and it had laid off the majority of employees. Joe had committed to stay even though there was no definite date of closure and he had not been promised any incentive to stay until the bitter end. He was also at risk in securing a severance package or even a warning of when the last day would be and the company was digging deeper and deeper into financial ruin. Joe’s colleagues had taken the package and were looking for new employment but Joe was determined to go down with the sinking ship. When it was suggested to Joe that he create a resume and put some feelers in the marketplace, his response was that he was too busy working.
What do Astra and Joe have in common? “Stupid loyalty” to their companies. Let me be clear: neither of these individuals is stupid; in fact, the opposite is true for both as each is a highly intelligent professional. The flaw is that they are putting loyalty to their company above all else, including their own personal and professional well-being.
The belief that you need to put yourself at risk to be loyal is a belief and value that has gone out of style with the typewriter. The world of work has changed and downsizing, rightsizing, mergers and closures are all part of the workplace landscape that every employee needs to be prepared for. Just because you manage your career by keeping an up-to-date resume, networking inside and outside of your company, and assessing your skills does not mean you are disloyal to the “company” -- it means you are career savvy and preparing for marketplace changes.
Below are five simple steps that everyone, regardless of their positon, needs to follow to assure that they are always prepared for corporate world changes:
- GAIN insight about yourself. Take the time to assess and evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, interests and values.
- EXPRESS your value proposition. Understand what makes you marketable inside and outside your company and be able to articulate this easily.
- Try doing a personal SWOT analysis or getting feedback from your peers and managers.
- BUILD your network inside and outside the company. Understand what networking is and what it is not. Make sure you are also willing to help others in their networking.
- Maintain an up-to-date and compelling LINKEDIN profile. The blog post 5 Ways to Bring Your Personal Brand to Life Using LinkedIn by Cory Bainerman.