Take Risks to Avoid Getting Laid Off

The best way to avoid a pink slip is to take risks that other colleagues won’t.

I’ve said many times that to get the job you want, you have to protect the job you have. This is truer today than it’s ever been. In these difficult times, your job is a key asset, and it’s your Number One priority to protect it.

Does this mean you should be laying low, staying under the radar and hiding out of sight when the pink slips are flying? On the contrary: These are the times when you should be laying it all on the line and showing your board of directors what you’re really made of. That’s why I say that to protect your job — truly to bulletproof your position — you need to take risks. Lots of them.

For many people, it seems risky just to take a different route to work or to change their daily routine. Anything outside their behavioral comfort zone makes them nervous, and they avoid sudden moves at all costs. Well, I have news for these folks: Your company doesn’t care if you’re comfortable. It cares whether you’re helping it protect it’s vitality by improving the bottom line or otherwise adding tangible, measurable value. And to make that kind of difference, you have to take risks.

Introduce yourself to colleagues who don’t know you.

What kind of risks can you take that will help you protect your job, especially when layoffs are in the air? For starters, instead of hiding, go out of your way to make sure your colleagues – both higher ups and mid-level managers – know who you are. Look for your next chance to introduce yourself and have a positive, personal interaction.

You should also look for opportunities to show that you are flexible, that you can roll with whatever is happening and help the company make the best of it.

Share credit with others.

Never, ever miss a chance to share credit. Your instinct in perilous times may be to hoard credit, but trust me, the goodwill you display when spreading credit around has high bulletproof value to you.

Now is also the time to take on more responsibility. Be prepared to lend a hand at all times. And make it your business to take initiative every single day. Sure, every time you raise your hand or take on more, you risk making a mistake. But the bigger risk is in not raising your hand. Don’t think of it as putting your neck out; think of it as making sure your boss sees you as an enthusiastic, valuable member of the team.

Put money in my pocket.

Finally, no matter what your job description says you do for a living, spend a part of every day thinking about ways you can improve your company’s bottom line. First, make a big effort to keep your current accounts and client relationships healthy and happy; they’re your bread and butter, and if they go away, you go away. Also look for ways to cut costs or share expenses. Think of how you can reconfigure existing products or services to expand your current market prospects. Or revisit old opportunities to see if there’s any life left in them. I always say, I would never fire someone who’s putting money in my pocket. So be someone who’s putting money in the company’s pocket.

It used to be only the CEO who was expected to take the risks, and that’s why they got the big bucks. No more. Risk is the only path to bulletproof reward.