In times of global turmoil, your seemingly steady company could turn into a ‘Lehman’ overnight. Here’s how to get equipped…
Arun Nayar (name changed) never saw it coming. A divisional head of Lehman Brothers – ranked numero Uno in “Most Admired Securities Firm” by Fortune just last year, was shocked to know about his company filing for bankruptcy last week.
His fate, like that of the company’s 2,500-odd employees in India, hung in balance then and he did not doing anything but panic, receive calls, track developments and panic all the more.
When you have no idea that you fall under the ‘vulnerable’ category, news like these can hit you hard, especially if you’re the major breadwinner of your family. (Also, if your parents have put you up in the shaadi market, the social repercussions can be damaging!)
Given the current volatility and the Lehman debacle, here are ways to equip yourself to see another day even as your company goes to the streets.
Apart from printing and taking home personal data from your workstation, it is essential for you to locate copies of your performance appraisals and other records obtained from the HR guys. Give another look to your status reports and files of your projects.
These would help you update your resume so as to reflect all your recent accomplishments and skills. While organising yourself, always foresee where you’re heading next and what all would help you reach there.
Take what’s yours
Go through your employment papers and see if you can make the most of any perks and benefits to which you are entitled. If you’re insured by the company, schedule your checkups and cater your dental or medical issues.
If you’ve been given a flexible spending account, turn in all outstanding claims to avoid forfeiting any balances. Also, you must calculate exactly how much casual and sick leaves you’ve used and how many are left unused.
Though most desi private limited companies are known to dishonor unused holidays, some of them pay you for any remaining vacation. If you bring that to their notice that is.
After you’re hit with the deadly news of a sell-off or a major re-structuring of your company, spend more time networking than answering curious callers. Call that trusted career mentor of yours, and don’t forget to call former co-workers and clients. This is also a good time to help others who may save your ship from sinking in the future.
Sometimes, pure gyaan also helps. It won’t harm to visit the websites of relevant trade and professional associations as well as companies where you’d like to work. Keep on the vigil for job fairs, skill workshops and the like.
Make an exit strategy
Your HR folks will already begin working on a script when the company is in the bad phase. If no information about your fate has been communicated, you need to hunt down the company policy manual to find out what is the standard practice.
Beware, do not agree to sign anything in the first few days of turmoil, always buy time to review the proposals with your advisors.
Our employees have more bargaining power than they realise. It can pay to thoroughly assess your situation, so that you can negotiate aspects of the termination that will have the most value for you.
For example, if the layoff occurs just before a bonus was due or before an anniversary that would increase your pay, prepare a case that you should be entitled to receive that payment or additional vesting.
Layoffs can create many uncertainties, but only you can assuage them by determining whether you’re likely to make the next smart move or sink with the ship. If your talent, skills, value and relationships in this company were all credible, be confident of fishing out another employer in no time. Or rather, the other way round.
If your company’s otherwise okay and is just downsizing thanks to a new policy, your boss might be your saviour. Take the time to have regular chats with your boss about projects you’re working on. Face-to-face conversations make a difference in building relationships, HR gurus say. Occasional lunches or quick talks over chai can also go a long way!
Ref: Mumbai Mirror – September 22nd, 2008
Don’t wait until you lose your naukri to start nurturing business relations. Get to know others in your field and join professional associations. Don’t just build a collection of business cards – the real key is their usability. Closely knowing five big shots in your field is way better than casually knowing bosses all over the industry.