While no job is ever guaranteed to be secure, there are a number of strategies planners can employ to safeguard their positions and/or departments. To do so, meeting professionals need to be insightful, assertive and willing to shift from old thought patterns to new mindsets, as suggested below.
Tune InOld thinking: Keep your head down and do your work.
Strategic thinking: Be extra-aware of your surroundings and pitch in whenever you see an opportunity.
You are more likely to maintain your position and contribute to the success of your team if you keep your head up, stay aware and take a proactive stance. This does not mean drawing unnecessary attention to yourself; rather, it means shining a light on your ability to prevent or solve problems and a willingness to lend a hand with anything, an attitude that may be particularly appreciated in firms decimated by layoffs.
Stay TrustworthyOld thinking: Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.
Strategic thinking: Portray yourself as someone to trust, and at the same time be extra cautious about what details you reveal about yourself to co-workers.
While "enemies closer" is a good place to start, you are probably still worried about the wrong people; don't share unnecessary information with your "friends" either. Desperate times cause the best of us sometimes to sacrifice integrity. On the flip side, being known as someone who can keep a secret and act with integrity will give you insights and garner respect from managers and top executives.
Prove Your Worth Old thinking: You are so good at your job that you can never be replaced.
Strategic thinking: Find creative ways to communicate your value and highlight your accomplishments.
No one is irreplaceable -- just look at all the CEOs who have been ousted from the companies they founded. But it won't hurt to reinforce your value by documenting your (and your team's) professional savvy (e.g., in negotiating rates and saving the company hard dollars) in brief weekly e-mails to senior executives. Another way is to ask managers in different areas of your organization whom you work with to put their praise or thanks to you and your staff in writing, with copies going to your boss and other VIPs in the firm.
Tout the TeamOld thinking: It's a dog-eat-dog world; everyone should look out for himself.
Strategic thinking: The stronger the pack, the safer you are.
Times like these encourage lone-wolf "I am out for myself" behavior. But turning against your team and sacrificing the strength of your department for your singular survival is more likely to expedite your demise. Now is the time to bolster your department. Be sure to praise their group and individual successes to higher-ups, especially when you get a pat on the back from management -- and continue to foster the team spirit.
Think Long-TermOld thinking: Do what you have to do to keep your job.
Strategic thinking: Don't trade a temporary paycheck for a permanently tainted reputation.
The most important aspect of job security is the willingness to accept that the definition of secure includes preservation of your long-term earnings, the solidity of your network, possible future opportunities and your sterling reputation. This means you should think twice before stepping on a colleague to save your current job -- it could mean losing many better jobs tomorrow.
Louise M. Felsher, CMP, CMM, is a principal consultant for San Carlos, Calif.-based Ellipses Strategic Marketing.