Status Check for 2009: Is Your Job Safe?
As we approach the new year, there is a big uncertainty looming everywhere. For a large majority of people, the uncertainty is about their job. Is it safe? In other words, will they have a job or not?
I think the real question should be "Is someone really employable in the new economy or not?" but that's a topic for another discussion.
This is a quick exercise to do a status check on the "safety" of your job. The questionnaire is in no way complete. The focus is to make you think beyond the "job responsibilities" outlined in your offer letter.
Note: Not all questions are relevant for people at all levels.
1. Is your job core to what the company stands for?
When there is a crisis, an organization tends to drop non-core and adjacent activities. The approach will be to play to their strengths to survive and thrive. If your job does not contribute to the strengths of the organization, you have to quickly re-invent yourself so that it does align with the company core purpose. If what you bring aligns with the strengths of the company, the follow-up question is "how much capacity are you adding to the company?"
2. What will the company/department lose by eliminating your job?
Please note that the question is not, "What will the company gain by keeping you in that job?"
During a crisis, avoiding threats (rather than going after opportunities) will take center stage. If there is no significant threat, there is no big safety net for the job. Even when you are in a strategic R&D project, look at what this R&D project will mean to the company. If you are not happy with the answer, it's time to re-think, re-invent, and re-act.
3. Who is borrowing the brand power?
Is your department proud of you because of your personal brand? OR
Are you proud of the brand of your department?
The answer should ideally be: Both
4. What is the assessment of your "value" in the eyes of the stakeholders?
If the answer is vague, such as "A lot" or "Significant," you have to re-visit the topic. Can you quantify your value in some measure, and is that value justifiable?
5. Is your job "offshorable?"
If your job can be moved offshore, then chances are it will be—in some form or fashion. In other words, you have to question yourself about whether you are doing commodity work. If you are doing work that a machine can do or someone in another country can do for a smaller fee, the chances of those moves may be very high. The thing is that you may not have control of your job if you are engaged in commodity work.
6. Do you care as if it's your own?
If you don't care about your product as if it's your own, you can't expect the company to do that (about you) either. When you care as if it's your own, the passion is clear. Passionate people win—all the time. In troubled times, an organization needs passionate people to keep the place alive. And, the thing about passion and caring is that you can't fake them.
7. Can you handle office politics well?
OK, you may not like office politics, but if you are working in an office, you better learn to deal with it. All else being equal, someone who knows how to deal with office politics will always come out a winner.
8. What is the cost of maintaining you?
There is the cost that you can measure (money, overhead, etc.) and there is the cost that is "real"—which includes, but is not limited to, the emotional cost of dealing with you everyday. For example, if you like to whine a lot, you increase your cost of maintenance. In troubled times, if your real cost to the company is significantly higher than the measurable costs, you are in trouble.
9. Are you likeable?
Unless you work for NASA, you don't have to be a rocket scientist. In tough times (and probably all times) a combination of 7 out of 10 on skills and 9 out of 10 on attitude is preferred to the other way around. If you are not likeable, it will hurt you in ways you would never imagine. People don't always make rational decisions, but they will definitely rationalize it after they have made the decision. So, people may not dismiss you because you are not likeable, but they will find a way to justify why they dismiss you beyond the likeability factor.
[Thanks to Cool Friend Raj Setty for providing us all with these questions for self-examination. Raj works with entrepreneurs to bring ideas to life and spread their adoption. You can learn more about him at www.rajeshsetty.com or follow him on his blog, Life Beyond Code, or on Twitter @UpbeatNow.]