This blogpost is not an exhaustive summary of the book. Just contains the notes I took
KEY POINTS FOR JOB PROTECTION
- Don’t assume that because no one has said anything to you that everything is fine and your job is safe.
- You need to know the signs of a job in jeopardy and take action immediately if any surface.
- “The law” cannot protect you, so don’t rely on it. A company can always find ways around the law if it wants to. Your best protection is:
- looking at things through the mind-set of an owner. This will help you know what to focus on, and more importantly, what to avoid;
- making sure your outward actions match the ideal perception you’d like the company to have of you;
- cultivating the appearance of alignment with what the company truly values and rewards, not what it gives lip-service to.
- If you’ve been laid off, downsized, or reorganized, start examining where you might have gone wrong so it doesn’t happen in the future. These occurrences are very rarely benign.
- No matter what your title, industry, or position, your number-one job is to keep your job, to protect all you’ve worked for, and achieve the success and recognition you deserve. Stop whatever else you’re doing and make sure you aren’t doing any of the things mentioned in the next chapter. They are the secret career killers.
THE SAFE WAY TO SHOW YOUR SMARTS
- SMART SAFETY 1: Only provide opinions when asked. Never volunteer. Never mention the problems, or what’s not working, offer only positive solutions that could improve the bottom line.
- SMART SAFETY 2: If your boss shuts down your suggestions, drop it. When you get to be the boss you can do whatever you want. As long as you are the employee, you do it the way he wants it done—even if you think, or know, it could be done better.
- SMART SAFETY 3: Make sure you always show respect and appreciation for the efforts that have gone before you. Everyone has a different idea about how things should be set up, that’s why companies put one person in charge to make those final decisions—your boss. Once they are set up, you must respect and support those systems, unless asked for your opinion, or asked to help come up with something better.
- SMART SAFETY 4: If you do make a suggestion that improves things, be ready for your boss to take full credit. Any suggestions made on a team are for the betterment of the team, not for your personal glory. Your boss knows where it came from and is secretly in your debt—a good place to be
- Showing your smarts is not how you get ahead and get noticed; providing stellar support for your boss is
- Managers know who gossips and who doesn’t. Gossips are not only distrusted, the information eventually trickles up to the higher levels, and those you’ve gossiped about can find out where it came from.
- Whether fair or not, companies tend to judge guilt by association. This means, not only do you have to stay away from the behaviors companies distrust, you also have to stay away from other employees who indulge in them.
- If the company sees that you spend time with those who spread negativity, they will assume you share those same views. You might refrain from gossip, but if you listen to what the gossiping crowd has to say, you will be associated with them. If one of your friends develops a bad relationship with a key person, you could be sidelined by association. That’s the way it works
- Like it or not, those who steer clear of the employee friendship cliques tend to stand out from the crowd by appearing more dedicated, conscientious, and serious about their work. Leaders tend to be solitary. They don’t gravitate toward packs or go along with group mentalities.
- The harsh truth is, whenever a manager assigns an important project or otherwise puts her faith in one of her employees, her reputation is on the line. Her success depends on how well she delegates. She’s not going to jeopardize her success for an employee dealing with personal issues. She just can’t.
- The HR/personnel department is not allowed to be on your side, so don’t give them any reason to suspect that you may become an inconvenience, problem, or liability of any kind. Treat HR as if you were speaking directly to the CEO, because you might as well be. If you need real help or advice go to an outside source like an employee advocate.
- PUBLIC VOICE = POSITIVE SUPPORT. Don’t say anything negative or complaining about your company, boss, or policies. All public voice must be 100 percent supportive, with any concerns carefully and respectfully voiced in private one-on-one with the key decision maker responsible.
- AVOIDING THE AGE ISSUE. It’s not about age, it’s about staying away from things that might scare your employer, and emphasizing your value.
- SAY NO TO GOSSIP. If you gossip or hang around gossips, you will be distrusted.
KNOW YOUR GATEKEEPERS AND TREAT THEM WELL
- The relationship you have with your boss right now is actively determining your future. Treat your boss as you would the most valuable and influential person in your career—because right now, he is.
- SHARING YOUR SMARTS. Showcasing your smarts is not how you get noticed, providing stellar support for your boss is . You can’t share your smarts safely without first earning the right, and showing open respect for those who have worked to put the current processes in place. Better still, wait until your opinions or suggestions are solicited
CAUTION: E-MAIL AHEAD
- Treat all e-mail as if you were writing a formal memo to be distributed to the entire company. It’s the only way to be safe.
- FRIENDS AND WORK. Be careful what your work friendship could be saying to upper management. Choose your friends (a.k.a. alliances) carefully, or take it outside.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT “CAMP.” If your company has separate-camp syndrome, be sure you choose to openly support the one you aspire to, not the one you’re currently in. You don’t want to get mistaken for the enemy.
- PERSONAL LIFE. It should stay private. Keep any information about your personal life, negative or positive, as quiet as possible. Let others, even your boss, talk about their personal lives, but don’t reciprocate.
- THE TURNAROUND. Some of these career killers can be fixed before it’s too late. Yes, it is easier to go to another company and start fresh. But if you really love your company and job, a heartfelt turnaround could put you squarely in the positive limelight.
DON’T MAKE EXCUSES OR POINT FINGERS
- Even if it was someone else’s “fault,” it’s your problem now.
- DON’T TELL YOUR BOSS YOU’RE ALREADY DOING IT. You may be doing it, but you need to show her you’re doing it. For whatever reason, she hasn’t been able to see it. Figure out how to make it more visible.
- DON’T MAKE IT YOUR BOSS’S FAULT. For example, don’t say “If you would just give me more direction up front or stop changing things midstream I could make your deadlines.” She is the boss and that means she doesn’t have to adapt to you, you have to adapt to her. Whatever idiosyncrasies she has, it’s your responsibility to work around them
- A reputation is not only something you should be actively crafting, it is your insurance policy for your career.
- By refusing to react, defend, or get emotional yourself, you are stopping the escalation. The one who stops the escalation has an immediate upper hand in a confrontation and gives the appearance of confidence in her ability to handle any situation
- To get more money you must prove you are worth more, not that you need or deserve more. Collect your documentation, do your research, and present your case—and only once a year.
- Promote yourself. Promotions are offered, not asked for. If you have to ask for it, you’ve already lost it. Position yourself for the next promotion before one comes up, not after.
- Perfect performance reviews. These are managed not earned. It doesn’t matter how well you think you’re doing. All that matters is what your boss thinks. Reviews are completely subjective, so actively manage your boss’s perceptions of your efforts and steer the process toward a top score for yourself every time.
- Backstabbers and rumormongers. The best defense is a solid reputation. Your reputation is something you must actively manage. It’s your best protection in the workplace. The only way to avoid damage is to make sure no one will believe the rumor.
- Medical and maternity leave. Don’t count on the law to protect your job. Make sure you know your rights, check your eligibility, and manage your leave and return for optimal results. Protecting your position while on leave is your job, not your company’s.
- New boss? Don’t just sit there and wait for him to impress you or win you over. Take the initiative and build a relationship with this new key gatekeeper. Know what to expect and be helpful, or you might be gone.
- Conflict. When faced with a conflict, resist the temptation to defend yourself. De-escalate the situation by staying calm, focused, and making sure you understand the real issue. They don’t need resolution on the spot, they only need to know they’ve been heard. Go back to them with a well-crafted solution later.
- Mistakes. Worried that a mistake will hurt your career? If you handle it correctly it can actually raise your career capital. “Correctly” means out in the open so no one gets blindsided and the problem can be handled swiftly and optimally.
- Expense reports. Always treat the company’s money as if it were your own. You never know who’s watching it.
- Appearances. How you choose to dress tells your company what kind of thinker you are. So it should always be conservative, professional, and targeted to those at the top. Watch how they dress to get your cues. Don’t think that just because they let you wear whatever you want that it won’t count against you.
- Your workspace. It should reflect your alignment and professionalism, not your personal style. How you choose to decorate your office and workspace tells your company what kind of thinker you are, and what you truly value. Be careful.
- Vacations. Feel free to keep one on the books every six months to avoid burnout, but never take more than two weeks at one time. And stay in touch.
- The office romance. Always keep it secret at the office—no one needs to know you’re dating. Unless it’s a manager/employee romance. In that case, it must be disclosed by the manager to his or her boss (only), and a transfer should be requested. No one else needs to know.
- A supportive and enthusiastic cheerleader for the company will gain attention faster and more effectively than any other method.
- Employees with a tendency toward pessimism, or realism as some like to call it, are less valued by employers than those who tend toward optimism.
- It’s alive and well in corporate America, but it’s not automatic. You have to do the things, and make the choices, that inspire it. Think about what would make you fiercely loyal, and do that.
- GET RID OF YOUR BOSS AND CO-WORKERS. Treat your position (any position) as if it’s an independent company and you’re the owner. Treat other employees as vendors and your boss and company as key clients. This will give you an air of success, and put you in natural alignment with what your company values and rewards.
- OPTIMISM. If you don’t naturally have it, cultivate it. Its one of the most sought-after qualities for upper management and leadership positions.
- BE UNDERWHELMED. Your company won’t give you more if it doesn’t look like you can easily handle all you have—and more.
- CATCH THE BALL. Be the first to volunteer, take the projects no one else wants, or that your boss hates doing. Organize your schedule and work approach to be able to take on new projects, and go the extra mile. That’s what will signal to the upper levels that you’re ready for bigger and better things.
- AUDITORY OR VISUAL? Change your style to present information in a way that will wow the recipient(s).
- GET THE SKILLS COMPANIES REWARD. Concentrate on flexibility, salesmanship, public speaking, and high-level visible goal achievement.
- BE A VISIONARY. Spend time looking down the road, out into the future, and anticipate things that may be coming your way. If you spend all your time focusing on your little corner of the company, you will get blindsided. Leaders are visionaries, so don’t be afraid to be the big-picture person.
- ALL THE WORLD’S A STAGE. Especially at work. You always have an audience, so play your part well, be careful of nonwork environments, and keep your best foot forward.
- DON’T TELL ANYONE WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Protect the “new you” and be prepared for people to ask questions about your new attitude/approach. (Pssst—the correct answer to any question is, “I really enjoy what I’m doing, and I enjoy working here.”)
- TAKE IT SLOW. No need to try to do these all at once. Give yourself credit for the ones you’re already doing, and take them one at a time.
- Feedback, in order to be effective and team building rather than scary and intense, should be casual, specific, and often. And it should be both positive and corrective.
LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP
- Don’t assume a promotion would be better simply because it’s higher. Examine carefully, do your research, know what you’re in for, and don’t be afraid to pass it up if it’s not right for you or your goals.
- BE PREPARED. New managers, and the newly promoted, typically face a personal gauntlet few are prepared for, especially if they stay at the same company. Expect to have to do all the “dirty” jobs you hoped you’d never have to do, and to have all your previous relationships within the company shift. In fact, be prepared for everything to change.
- ENTRANCE IS EVERYTHING. Those who enter into a new position in a power role, telling everyone what to do, are in for trouble. Enter into a new position in service, not in power. Don’t tell, ask. Interview your new boss, other department heads, your new team, and find out what would make their lives easier and better, how you can best be of service to them. The more you take on the role of service, the more you will be accepted, respected, and effective in your new position.
- NEWS FLASH! You don’t have to know everything. You don’t have to do everything. All you have to know is where to go to get the right information—don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. All you have to do is support your team to their highest levels of performance. Those at the top are looking for you to learn, not jump in immediately knowing what to do. That’s impossible and no one expects it.
- DON’T DO, CLARIFY. Your Employees’ Performance is entirely in your hands. If they aren’t doing what you want, you haven’t been clear enough or offered the right type of support. Take the time to develop your team by clarifying and assisting, not doing.
- DON’T TRY TO BE LIKED. You are not there to be friends with the employees, you are there to help them achieve at their highest level and help them get the rewards they deserve for their efforts and time. Managers who try to be liked are never respected. Managers who build high performance teams tend to get both.
- DON’T GIVE ADVICE. Giving advice creates an ineffective team dependent on one person—you. Help your employees solve their own problems, and generate their own solutions and ideas, by asking them the next question. This will create an empowered and confident team with ownership over the execution of their projects and tasks—and that is where true enthusiasm and high performance lives!
- WHAT, NOT HOW. Tell your employees what you’d like them to do, but never how to do it. How breeds rebellion and stymies enthusiasm, what breeds confidence and high performance.
- USE FEEDBACK RESPONSIBLY. Evaluation should happen every day, not once a year. Don’t use performance reviews for developing your team or addressing issues. Those things should be occurring day by day, month by month. There should never be anything, good or bad, in an employee’s formal review that you haven’t discussed with him/her several times throughout the year.
- DISCIPLINE. Don’t try to force your employees to behave, simply employ clarity and consequences. Give employees the benefit of the doubt by clarifying expectations first. If they continue to exhibit the problematic behavior, outline consequences. If it happens again, consequences are enacted. This is fair, consistent, and effective.
- THOSE ON A PEDESTAL GET KNOCKED OFF. Putting yourself “above” others will only create resentment and backlash. Positioning yourself as a foundational force will create support, loyalty, high-level team building, and triumph.