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Is There Insurance Against Downsizing?

It can happen to anyone, but what can you do about it?


The rumor mill is buzzing. A downsizing is coming. You’ve got a sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You feel powerless. You’re losing sleep. What can you do?

Plenty. Here’s a checklist:

1. Stop worrying. Worry accomplishes nothing. And what’s worse, it shows on your face. Your sense of impending doom is a self-fulfilling prophesy. Your vibe will be picked up. Removing that vibe from the office will become one more reason for you to be on the downsizing list.

2. Resist the urge to be invisible. You may think about wanting to stay under the radar during troubled times. If they don’t notice me, maybe they won’t eliminate me. Wrong strategy. Better to provide a good reason to be kept.

3. Be part of the solution. Downsizing can create anger among survivors. You’re already overworked, and now even more will be piled on you. Don’t think that way. If you want to keep working there, this is the time to volunteer to do more. Or even better, identify opportunities to eliminate the work that creates the least value. Downsizing is a response to crisis, and crises need heroes. Be one.

4. Join crossfunctional teams. This is a time to broaden your base and your perspective. Who knows? Your expertise may have value beyond your own department. And other departments may not be targeted during the downsizing.

5. Be willing to relocate. This is difficult for some, impossible for others. But especially in large companies, a willingness to move to areas of need could make the difference in staying employed.

6. Develop new skills. There’s no better time to stay in the learning mode. Are there additional computer skills you can pick up? How are your presentation skills? Downsizing is an opportunity for companies to get rid of employees who just seem to be going along for the ride. Your commitment to improvement shows management you’re not dead weight. In the meantime, you’re making yourself more marketable. Plus, it’s harder to worry when you’re growing and getting better.


7. Build your network. Belong to profesional organizations. Attend networking events. Make it a goal to get to know as many people in your line of business as you can. This makes more sense than ever. More often than not, people hire people they know. It’s human nature. So why not have that work in your favor?

8. Be a team player. The workworld is competitive, and while survival strategies may seem to be about protecting your interests first, the real advantage belongs to team players. They are the grease in a well-oiled machine. They make workplaces work well. Managers know that. The employee who places the team first is the one that managers want to keep.

9. Make yourself valuable. Talk to your boss and other company leaders. What is the company’s greatest area of need? Does the organization need to reinvent itself to survive in a changed world? Can you be a part of that reinvention? Can you offer a critical skill that can help the company generate new revenue?

10. Stay positive. This can be tough when the buzz about downsizing dominates discussions in the hallways and lunchroom. Have faith. All you can do is all you can do. If you have what it takes to maintain a positive mindset during trying times, you will be seen as a leader.



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