“…The only real security you have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience, and ability.”
- Henry Ford
Take the lead to create your own job security.
My first experience in wrestling with my personal thoughts on job security happened in 1992. My employer planned to cut a few hundred people from my division. The process for selection of who would stay and who would go depended on how you were qualified for your job.
I was ticked off. If I wasn’t cutting it, they should have told me. If there were other people who were not performing, management should have dealt with them already. But to make me go through the process of proving I was qualified for my own job did not set well with me.
They asked us to supply evidence. In other words, I had to dig up performance appraisals, project reports, and even ask for letters from co-workers and internal customers that proved how I met a particular qualification for my job. I know this is not an uncommon practice. But still.
“Remember: Jobs are owned by the company. You own your career!” - Earl Nightingale
I hit this “project” hard, as if it was another assignment. I spent 24 hours putting my file of evidence together. (I counted the hours.) The file was 2 inches thick. I still have it 22 years later. Why? It represents the point in my career when I began to reframe my idea of job security. I learned from this experience that they were lucky to have me. I had a lot going for me whether I stayed or left. I would never feel at the mercy of this type of situation again.
How do you take care of you?
I experienced 8 downsizings in my corporate career. Of those 8, my job was at stake, or the person next to me — their job was at stake — or I was administering the downsizing, or some combination thereof. Here’s how I took care of myself and advised others as we worked through the ever-changing job security landscape.
- Make sure you have a support system, and that it’s not just one person.
- Create a “cushion of goodness” in your life. If work isn’t so great, make sure at least one other aspect of your life is healthy and fulfilling, like family, friends, recreation, etc.
- Expand your network. Use sociologist Mark Granovetter’s concept of weak ties to your advantage.
And finally, leverage the current conditions.
“…never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean [is that] it’s an opportunity
to do things you think you could not do before.”
- Rahm Emanuel
With chaos comes opportunity. Tides shift. Management is making decisions fast and furious. Some employees opt-out. Be ready with that great idea you have for reorganizing your group, or consolidating your position.
Cultivate real job security.
In the words of peak performance expert, Anthony Robbins, let’s keep in mind:
“The only true security in life comes from knowing that every single day you are improving yourself in some way, that you are increasing the caliber of who you are and that you are valuable to your [organization], your friends, and your family.”
What are your thoughts and stories about “job security”?