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Consultants Share How Not to View Job Security: Part One

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As our economy continues to fluctuate, one major concern for Americans is job security. So it’s not surprising that many of us turn to articles published on the Internet for assistance and inspiration on how to keep ourselves up-to-date on current trends and solutions to this common predicament. But what if the advice leads you astray?

AccelaWork came across an article from US News & World Report that provided sixteen tips aimed at helping employees keep their job. To say the very least, the column caught our eye but not because it was eye-opening.  In this three part series, we divide these sixteen tips into three separate categories: The Hits, The Misses and The Nearly There.

worker productivity and job security

© Flickr user wbaiv

Today, we’d like to tackle the tips we feel missed the mark in regards to helpfulness. Not only are they far from inspiring, but they convey a message that does little more than patronize and insult. Below are “the misses” quoted directly from the article, with our own translations:

  • Be the First to Arrive and the Last to Leave

Showing up to work first and leaving last shows your boss that you are dedicated to your job.

Translation: You don’t have to be engaged or productive at work. So long as you’re taking up space and expending your personal time you’ll be safe.

  • Make Everybody Love You

No matter how much you hate your job, always show up with a smile on your face.

Translation: Don’t attempt to rectify unsettling factors at work that leave you unhappy. Dissatisfaction in a job is just a part of life.

  • Take on Responsibilities that No One Else Wants to Do

Bite the bullet and offer to take on the task that no one wants to do. Your boss (and coworkers) will love you for it.

Translation: Being empowered enough to admit that’s not my job is far from useful in the large scheme of things.

  • Don’t Abuse Internet Privileges

It is very easy for companies to track what you do on your computer while in the office, especially online activities. Stay off of Facebook, don’t check your personal emails, don’t surf the web, and don’t use your company email address to send personal emails.

Translation: You cannot trust yourself to define what is and what is not considered proper use of your time in the office.

  • Be the Social Chair

Who would want to fire the life of the party?

Translation: Popularity trumps capability.

Whether or not you read the descriptions beneath each tip doesn’t really matter. The bullet points are clear enough to interpret. In our view, they do nothing more than magnify the looming doubt and anxiety that already exists in stakeholders who fear for their jobs. To us, the overall theme is hard to deny:

Despite how hard you work, the dedication you have, the expertise you hold or the results you produce, the only viable way to prove true value is by partaking in unnecessary actions that distract from workflow, stall productivity and force you to embrace activity that is perhaps outside your comfort zone.

Bottom line: When keeping a job weighs heavier than actually doing your job, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. After all, what value is generated when the actions taken to prove it compromise the quality and level of work you perform?

Stay tuned for our views on the usefulness of tips that are “Nearly There”.

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  • http://indyscomputergeek.com Daniel Curry – Indy’s Computer Geek

    Yes, these 5 misses ‘Misses’ can be consolidated to just 2 points.

    First, Kiss Up. Regardless of the value you bring to the position, always kiss up. I can tell you as a business owner, once I get large enough to need to hire help, the ‘Kiss Up’ will NOT be the person hired. If I mistakenly hire one, they will be the first terminated, as well. In today’s business and work environments, we need productivity, NOT verbal gratification from our subordinates.

    The second point from this Yahoo list appears to tell hopeful job keeping employees to remain ‘Invisible for productivity, and glow in the dark orange visible for everything else’. Again, ignore the actual productive responsibilities of the job, instead be involved in all of the drama of everyone else, know everyone’s secrets and be the virtual bartender/shrink of the office.

    I’m not sure how else to word this, so let me just point out, bluntly and loudly:

    THIS IS THE WRONG APPROACH TO KEEP A JOB!

    Look at it from the simple math. You want to keep your job, so do your job, as well as possible (+1). As you do YOUR job, help others with theirs as much as possible without taking over their job (+1), and without impacting your performance. Be productive so the business can maintain profit (+5). That makes +7 credits to help your employer stay open and employing YOU. THe business stays open, you stay employed and you keep the lights on, at home.

    I honestly don’t see why this is such a difficult equation for some employees to understand.

    • http://www.accelawork.com Robby Slaughter

      Daniel, thanks for comments. You are spot on!

      You’re right that this is really about two issues: becoming a brown-noser and a busy-body. In both cases, the employees that fall victim to this trap are just trying to appear indispensable by making sure they “appear” as often as possible.

      Progress is what actually matters. Remember George Costanza!

  • Dauphine

    An interesting spin with the exception of the ‘Social Chair’. While it.s nice to have the social committee spreading the love around the office …those of us who are capable are taxed with picking up the slack. Not always an ideal situation.

  • http://www.roundpeg.biz Lorraine Ball

    I am hoping this is a list you dug up from 1992, when this sort of behavior drove corporate America. We used to call it hiding under your desk. But this last swing of the economy turned over a lot of desk. People who spent more time keeping their jobs then doing them ended up on the street, with no skills to find the next one.

    Want to find a job or keep the one you have.. get so good at what you do, that you will be impossible to replace. ,

    • http://www.accelawork.com Robby Slaughter

      Thanks for the comment Lorraine.

      Ashley found this post dated May 2011, and there are more than 700 comments on the original.

      Keep watching the blog. We have two more parts coming on this topic!

  • Ashley

    Thank you everyone for your responses. I must admit, when I first came across this article I too thought it was far from current in the eyes of corporate America. That’s why I was so intrigued to dig further into these points and create this 3-part series.

    My husband and I had a long conversation on this post and we got into a bit of a debate in regards to the ‘Social Chair’ tip. My husband agrees that popularity shouldn’t trump capability but he feels that if two individuals with the same track record and success rate were on the chopping block, the employee with less social involvement in the office would probably be the one to go. It was interesting to discuss to say the least.

    I think you’ll find the upcoming posts on this subject matter just as interesting, so keep an eye out!