An Q& A With Motivational Speaker Connie Podesta
Connie, although I have no reason to believe my job is in jeopardy, I still worry. Everywhere I turn I meet someone who has been laid off, fired, or let go. I go to work each day and try to do my best, but I’m not sure that is enough anymore. My boss is not very good at communicating what he needs or expects and rarely gives me feedback. What can I do to guarantee I will keep my job and stay employed, especially in tough times?
You are not the only one to ask this question. I hear it from people everywhere, in every industry who ask: “Just what exactly is my company (or school, hospital, organization, association, etc) looking for? What do they want me to do? I don’t understand how they decide which employees will keep their jobs and which ones won’t?” Sound familiar to you? Companies will even admit to me that they haven’t identified their standards themselves and are only depending on vague descriptions in their employee handbook. Or that their standards for high performance can vary from manager to manager or department to department. Often management finds it difficult to communicate to employees what they want or expect, especially when it comes to the tough discussions about areas that need improvement.
So in order to answer your question I relied on my research. I interviewed hundreds of business owners, human resource directors, CEO’s and managers and asked them:
“You have two employees, both technically competent, but you have to let one of them go due to downsizing, mergers or budget constraints. What abilities or behaviors are you looking for to determine which employee will stay or which one you would fight to keep?”
What I discovered was that most of them were in remarkable agreement about the high-performance traits they looked for in determining who goes and who stays. Basically, their responses fell into eight categories. In fact, the information they gave me was so eye-opening that I co-authored a book, “How To Be the Person Successful Companies Would Fight to Keep” where I talk about each of the eight behaviors at great length so employees everywhere could finally have a clear guide to what they needed to do to increase their odds of staying employed.
The good news is: I can certainly help you learn the “insider’s secrets” to keeping your career on track. First, however, let me focus on your very last question which was “what can I do to guarantee I will keep my job and stay employed?” There are two issues we need to discuss. One is the word “guarantee”. The fact is–there are no guarantees when it comes to job security. Things happen, goals change, life moves on. It is definitely not like the old days when a person found a job, stayed with it for 30 years, retired and got a pension. So planning for the possibility that you may have to change jobs–maybe even more than once– is a reality that’s here to stay.
Second, keeping the job you have now and staying employed are two different things. My goal is to help you stay employed, even if the job you have now goes away. Ironically, if your primary goal is to keep the job you have no matter what, you may be putting yourself at risk. I have observed that many employees who are desperately trying to keep their job, as is, can become reactive rather than proactive. They react with fear and anxiety which, in turn, causes them to be territorial and resistant to change. They react defensively, hoard information that needs to be shared, and have a hard time working well as a team because they are focused strictly on “their job” rather than looking at the big picture. In other words, they display exactly the opposite behavior of what today’s companies are looking for in a successful employee. To stay employed, you have to picture yourself as “employable” and that means keeping all of your options open, keeping your skills up to date, networking with people outside of your workplace, developing contacts and allies within your workplace, and learning exactly what it is that top organizations are looking for when it comes to employees they would fight to keep. My goal is help you learn the skills you need to stay marketable and continue to earn an income in a fast-paced, ever-changing world no matter whether it is your present job or the one you may have down the road.
So what are these eight “magical” behaviors that can perhaps determine whether you stay or go, get promoted or not, or get hired or passed over? Because the question you should be asking yourself is:
“What abilities or behavior must I have or develop in order to stay employed?”
Here they are:
- Take charge of your personal life–in other words, leave it at home.
- Demonstrate that you add value to the organization. They have a good reason to keep you.
- Make sure your attitude has a positive impact on your company, customers and co-workers.
- Accept change. Embrace change. Even initiate change.
- Don’t waste time–figure out ways to be more productive.
- Communicate openly and directly so you can develop strong, healthy relationships.
- Look for opportunities to stand out from the crowd and be a positive role model. Leadership is not a title, it is a way of life.
- Continue to learn new information and skills and focus on your strengths.
How do you rank when it comes to these integrating these eight high-performance behaviors into your job? To find out, take my assessment which is self-scoring and see how you rank among other top professionals in your industry. With that information as a starting point, you can take the first step to insuring your future employment. Now that’s priceless.
In the weeks to come, I will be referring to these eight high-performance traits as I answer questions from people who are interested in one thing:
HOW TO STAY EMPLOYED IN TOUGH TIMES