Reruns from the Dusty Archives No.1: I thought that this one was particularly topical, given these turbulent times.
If you get a whiff this sort of thing is coming down the pike; suck it up, be brave and take action. Listen to your gut. More to the point, trust your gut! If it’s a 'little picture' problem and you have ANY input or control that may head the issue off at the pass, take control and do it. If it’s a 'big picture' problem and the SEC have carted your Chief Executive off in handcuffs, you need to be getting your lifeboat ready. Stock your lifeboat with:
- A polished, up to the minute CV.
- In-depth knowledge of your sector - who is up/down? Who is hiring/firing? Who is expanding/merging/hostile-takeovering?
- You may wish to 'liberate' copies of the latest research and reports on your sector. If you are going to go this risky and illegal route, be very careful how you do it - companies are [rightly] very protective of research data and customer information.
- A (resurrected) network – the number one tool to keep you abreast of movement and opportunities in your arena.
- First and over-ridingly, make sure you are seen to be committed, enthusiastic and contributing. Don’t expect people to notice your successes, you need to develop a framework so that you can get the good news out there.
- If your skills have been sliding, you need to get serious about keeping them current. Talk to your boss, HR and T&D. Do some computer based training (CBT) or home study to kick you off; but stay current.
- Try and get yourself on to a key project – something that the company isn’t going to walk away from in the short term. Volunteer for the nightmare (but very important) organisational transformation jobbie. The one you KNOW is going to last 12-18 months and they can’t afford to dump anyone involved in it.
- Review your personnel file (you are entitled to do this at any time).
- Have a quiet chat with your union. If you are not unionised, have an initial conversation with a legal expert.
- Close friends or former colleagues who have moved on – get them onside and try to lay out a balanced picture so they can give you objective advice.
- See if it is possible to have a frank, off-the-record discussion with the ultimate decision maker.
If the reasons for letting you go are legitimate, you need to negotiate the ‘exit story’ and the subsequent reference. If they are not legitimate, you need to decide can you afford to take on the fight – with all the financial, emotional, and career implications.