I know it sounds crazy. Bad Economy, Good
career opportunity. The two seem
diametrically opposed. They're not.
The status of open jobs
as an economy becomes uncertain fall into
one of three categories:
Stage 1) Open jobs can be filled. No new
positions are created.
Stage 2) There is a hiring freeze. No jobs
can be filled.
Stage 3) Reduction-in-force. Jobs are
Working in an environment
governed by costs rather than growth is
challenging. Fewer people, more work. This
is not a new phenomenon. It's a reality with
which we are all familiar.
It is the employees left
behind after a reduction-in-force who stand
to gain, if they play their cards right. And
it is here that the law of diminishing
returns comes in to play.
The upside of fewer
employees and more work is more
opportunities for remaining employees. The
key is to be strategic when taking on more
When a position is not
filled, anticipate the work that will be
distributed. Have a ready-to-articulate
reason why your department is not the
appropriate spot for boring, tedious work.
And offer to take other more interesting
Every job has its grunt
work, even at the most senior levels. The
key is to position yourself as adding the
greatest value to the work you want most.
That said, your positioning cannot appear to
be about the work you want and don't want.
The accountabilities you pursue must be
about where you and your department will add
the most value to the organization.
Career mantra: It's not
about you. It's about the company. Remember
the banner stretched across the office in
the movie Office Space asking, "Is it good
for the company?" The same rules apply to
you. You are volunteering to take this
additional piece of work not because it's
good for your career and allows you to do
something you've always wanted to do, but
because it's good for the company.
Your career is a PR
campaign. The company exists to serve its
customers and to be profitable, not to help
you build skills and make you happy. If you
develop and are happy in the process,
fabulous. Employee growth and satisfaction
is a key element to company profitability,
and effective leaders work hard to achieve
both. But they are not the reason for the
Use an abundance of work
and lean staff to your advancement. What
role is now vacant that you have always
wanted? What department needs a home?
Identify what you want to do and then ask
The upside is that you'll
be seen as an ambitious team player. The
downside is that you and your department
will have more work to do, possibly more
than you can manage. And this is potentially
a recipe for overwhelm and dissatisfaction.
And it is here that you negotiate.
Something has to give.
You can't take on more work without more
resources without making changes. Either
your service levels change, you automate
with technology or you stop doing things
which are less essential. And you negotiate
and agree upon these changes with your
Deciding to stop
producing a report that is time consuming
and you're sure no one reads is a breakdown
in the making. Tell your boss, "I'm willing
to take on .....;" or better yet, "I'm
excited to do ..... That said, I want to
realistically manage workloads. Let's talk
about how I can shift what I'm doing to make
it all work."
This is being assertive
and responsible, both for your well being
and the well being of the organization.
Remember, too much to do, for too long
results in doing nothing.
Take control of your day
by managing your work load with your boss,
not around her. Make her your partner in
decision making and you'll be seen as a
reliable, long term resource.
Shari Harley leads The
Harley Group International, a Denver-based
training and consulting firm focused on
helping organizations hire, train and retain
the right employees. Shari can be reached at
Post your comments at
Copyright 2014, AIM Training Co., Ltd. All rights reserved.
No portion of this web site may be used or
reproduced in any manner
whatsoever without written permission, except in the
case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Back to Articles
| Top of the Page