Fireproofing Yourself


By Odette Pollar,

In these turbulent times, where security is fleeting to say the least, the more you can do to provide value to your boss, work group and organization the more secure you will feel. If you have a great job and you want to keep it there are some skills you can master that will help you stand out as "Keeper".

  1. Be accountable for outcomes. Take responsibility for results. Particularly now with organizations running so lean, everyone counts and every action truly does have a reaction. Remove "it is not my job" from you vocabulary. If the results are not good do what you can to correct the situation if you did not cause it initially. If you are seen as a person who is willing to take responsibility and be accountable that is a highly sought trait.
  2. Have an active desire to learn new things. Constantly upgrade your skills, learn new procedures, or volunteer to be crossed trained. Some of this learning can be gained at work in standard ways: a class, on the job training, or asking a colleague for a quick lesson. Don't be limited to this. On your own time read a book or attend an evening class. Constant learning makes you more valuable to your current employer but also gives you more options in the wider work world.
  3. Be flexible. If you are still working for the same employer that you were five years ago, chances are that you are not in the same position. Even if you happen to have the same job title, your day to day activities no doubt have transitioned. Being flexible, able and ready to shift gears is important. Transitioning because you must is a different feeling from changing and growing because you find that doing so is in your best interest.
  4. Think ahead. Think continually about the next step in the process or the logical consequences of an action you are taking now. The more proactive you can be in anticipating questions, concern, problems or situations the more value you provide. Thinking through an event or process lets you address issues before they arise or at least bring it up at the next planning meeting.
  5. Keep your cool. The more unflappable that you can be in new circumstances the more credible you are likely to appear. Bosses, clients and colleagues tend to admire the person who does not come unraveled in a crisis. When you are less emotional you are better able to asses a crisis situation and develop a workable plan for containing the problem. A reputation for having grace under fire is never a bad idea.
  6. Take yourself lightly. There is enough gloom and doom in the workplace, much of it legitimate. Even so, if you can take yourself lightly and try to see humor in situations you will be easier to be around than someone who only sees the negative. This is not to say that you should be falsely positive or chipper as everything around is slowly sinking into the mire. But the daily irritations of life and work in the big city are amenable to attitude adjustments.
  7. Be assertive. If you have a situation that cannot be done or a new task which will knock another out of the queue don't expect your boss to remember all of your responsibilities. If you are not sure about what is more important than the other, before you shuffle your priorities make sure you ask. Bosses hate surprises.
  8. Make your boss shine. It never hurts to put your boss in the best possible light. Making your direct superior look good will also make you look good. How you interact with others, address problems and provide service reflects on your department or workgroup and by extension on your boss. The more professional you can be the better. And these are all skills that you take with you and makes you more employable in case you find yourself looking, for whatever reason, for a new position.

Odette Pollar is a nationally known speaker, author, and consultant. President of the management consulting firm, Smart Ways to Work based in Oakland, CA, her most recent book is Surviving Information Overload. Email to share your comments, questions and suggestions: Visit us at: call: 1-800-599-8463.

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