We have a guest blog today from David D’ Alessandro, former CEO of John Hancock Financial Services.
How not to get the axe in this economy
Despite what some of television’s talking heads are saying, if it smells like, sounds like and looks like a recession—it is a recession. Look at some fundamental facts. Oil prices have skyrocketed. The Dow is down dramatically from its 14,000 record high. Unemployment has moved to its highest level in years. Companies like Siemens, General Motors and Washington Mutual are hemorrhaging jobs.
With a recession should come the fear that your job is in jeopardy. If you think that is not true, and you are too valuable to your company, too essential and the company would never be the same without you, then you are sadly mistaken.
But there is a way, in these questionable times, to increase your chances of maintaining your position and perhaps even getting promoted while your peers are inactive. In my new book, Executive Warfare, I discuss what it takes to stand out in organizations today. If you are smart, quick and agile, you can provide the company and the senior management with some much needed relief from part of their dilemma and at the same time improve your own circumstance. Here are three quick tips:
- Walk into your management office and offer a series of costs reductions in your area. Show initiative and imagination. Demonstrate you can still accommodate the company’s needs within these constraints. Do it in two layers. One with out of pocket expenses and an additional one involving lay-offs. Not replacing jobs and limited new hires. Be aggressive and prudent so you do not seem disrespectful or simply unable to distinguish when you are cutting into the “bone of the organization.”
- Now is the time to propose low-cost new revenue. A company affected by a recession is like fixing an airplane in midair. It must continue to fly even though it is need of a repair. If a company can show resiliency under these circumstances, not only do its constituents reward it. The company usually grows stronger. If you want to be part of it, look for new distribution systems and products you can sell quickly and profitably. Open up new sales territories. Fuel the organization with new dollars. No one ever fires somebody generating new revenue sources.
- There is always a way to propose and gain new profits. Pricing changes, product changes, cost changes—you name it. Make them happen fast without compromising product and service. Prove you can squeeze profit and well as generate sales.
During these difficult times it is easy for people to moan, “woe is me.” But leaders emerge from adversity. The recession provides an opportunity to break out and really show what you are made of.
If you want to “run with the pack, you need to howl like a wolf.”