Survive Back-Office Layoffs

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Okay, both Wall Street and the economy are tanking. While a healthy dose of concern is warranted, don't get caught up in all of the negative hyperbole. Instead, take some concrete steps to become an even more valuable employee who is less of a layoff target.

Remember, those "lucky ones" who survive belt tightening are often less "lucky" than you might think. Like anything else, value in a company is relative - in this case relative to your fellow employees.

In finance, the first tier of survivors are always the "producers" - those who possess a healthy book of business. Even if you aren't a producer, the closer you are to dealing with revenue-generating clients and influencing their decision to go with or stick with your firm, the greater your job security when times get tough.

The following advice is aimed primarily at support staff in information technology, administration and other areas whose "clients" are exclusively internal.

To survive a layoff, you need to create enough value that you stand out. You need to be more productive than your colleagues. Think about it: If you had to choose between cutting Employee A, who merely gets the job done, and Employee B, who seems to achieve a great deal more in a week, you'll probably come down on the side of the overachiever.

Of course, you don't want to kill yourself working 60-hour weeks, so you'll need a way to do more in the same 40 hours. That's where time management comes in. Find and master a time management system. Franklin Covey works well for a lot of people, but there are other systems out there, too. Choose a program that's right for you and stick to it with religious zeal.

Once you're able to squeeze more out of your time, make those extra hours to work for you. Look for problems that can be solved within your area of expertise. Once you find a problem, solve it. If you can't directly implement the change yourself, bring the problem - and your proposed solution - to your boss. If there's a potential return on investment, chances are your boss will go for it - and you've associated "problem solver" with your name.

This is just one of many strategies to keep you working in lean times. Even if layoffs never come to your company - and, remember, they may not - getting more done has benefits when your annual review and raise come around.

Chad Broadus is a tech professional based in the Pacific Northwest.