Keep Your Job!
Keep Your Job!
by Joseph Pichone
Can you ever remember a tougher economic (i.e., jobs) climate than the one we're in now? With unemployment figures exceeding 15% in some parts of the country, keeping your current job becomes all-the-more important than it ever was in the past. Here is the most important piece of information you need to understand - and act upon - if you want to lessen your chances of being fired.
Your job is simply a value proposition - that, in exchange for some amount of money, you'll provide your employer with something. Whatever your job entails, the trick is to make sure that the value of the services you provide at least meets (and preferably exceeds) the cost of keeping you on the payroll. The most "valuable" employees, then, are the ones most likely to be retained.
It stands to reason, then, that the more "value" you can create, the less likely the possibility of your being fired. Understanding what that value actually is to your employer is the most important key. In addition, the days of just doing the minimum to meet your employer's expectations are probably gone. You now have to exceed those expectations if you really want to improve your chances of staying. This is what will distinguish you from all the other performers.
Continuing to add value to your company certainly sounds like a logical way to keep your job, but it usually entails some meaningful effort on your part. First, you have to understand how your boss (or bosses) tangibly defines that value. Exactly what do they expect from you? If it's already documented in, say, a job description, or a statement of work, then you really have an advantage by already having it spelled out for you. If those expectations are not documented, then you'll have to find out what they are.
The next step to take, then, is to have a very candid conversation with your boss, preferably when are where you two can speak in private. The objective is gain a clear understanding of what your boss expects from you; this knowledge will help you avoid getting fired. Ask for specific examples of how you will simply "meet" those expectations, and then ask for examples of what would be "superior" or "exceptional" performance. Doing more than just the bare minimum is your strategy here, so you'll need to be able to clearly differentiate between the two.
Once you've gained a better understanding of those expectations - both the daily and the exceptional - then off you go to achieve them. Some people struggle with striking the appropriate balance between "letting the results speak for themselves" and "keeping count" for the boss, but don't be fooled - any boss worth his or her salt will make it a point to know how you're performing (or not). Remember, it's their responsibility to determine whether or not you get to keep your job.
Even if you work in a small company that has no formal performance appraisal process, you will still want to occasionally (no more than once every 6 months or annually) discuss your job performance with your manager. It may take some courage, but having that discussion is always preferable to the alternative - unexpectedly getting fired or laid off one day. Jog your boss's memory by reminding them of your accomplishments, both large and small; they, too, are busy and may have missed some of those.
If you actively take control of your own career and pay heed to these "value-related" tips, you should be able to not only avoid getting fired but also grow and even prosper in your current job. All too often it is the "expectation mismatch" that shortens professional careers. Understand what is truly important to your boss and act upon it; if you do, then you can frequently avoid the most unpleasant kinds of career surprises.
About the Author:
Having been both an employee and employer, Joseph Pichone offers the most important lesson he learned about how to avoid getting fired during 30 years of work in the private sector - understanding your actual value in the workplace. Click here for other invaluable career-related resources and information.
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