Information Outlook Column (Jan/Feb. issue), Due Dec. 28, 2011
By Stephen Abram
It doesn’t work 100% of the time but you’ve probably noticed that there are some people that seem to survive every organizational restructuring. In this latest economic downturn we’re seeing layoffs and downsizing on a scale in all sectors that most of us have never seen. As for me, I’ve been through too many to count – survived some and didn’t make it out the other side on others. By some counts there have been over 14 downturns in my professional career since 1978. These swings in the economy have burnished me and, ironically, made me less dependent on employers for my self-worth or finances. The private sector reacts to protect the whole enterprise during the business cycle and, although we shouldn’t take downsizing personally, it’s hard not to! The public sector is arguably experiencing a major downturn with extensive layoffs for the first time in memory for many. I was inspired recently by an article that was shared with me (from Black Enterprise: “10 ways to make yourself indispensable at work”), so I’ve adapted its 10 points for library land, but the original can be read without translation too.
Is the grapevine working overtime in your business, industry, community library, school board or institution? What do the water cooler conversations resemble in your sector – excitement about the future or doom and gloom? Are you seeing terrible budget debates, revenue shortfalls, business disappointments, investment or trust fund losses, or shortfalls in taxation support? What can you do to reduce your chances of layoff? Barring situations of collective bargaining where the rules can be prescribed, there are things you can do and should do precisely when you don’t need it right away.
Make a plan. Assess your strengths. Define your value, and, most importantly tend to your personal and professional network.
What tactics can you accomplish that will reduce your personal chances of layoff or prepare you better to shorten your period of unemployment? Remember that this isn’t about protecting the ‘library’ but of communicating your value as a “librarian.” There is a big difference! Here are ten:
1. Take ownership of all your responsibilities by seeing your role in the context of the entire enterprise and community. What would you increase as an activity and what would you decrease? Employees that think strategically are more valuable than one-trick ponies. Continue reading