1. Have a positive attitude
Stressful economic conditions are bad for (almost) everyone – why make it worse? Wake up every morning in a posture of gratefulness that you’re employed, and make every effort to radiate that positivity to others. Choose not to add to the chatter at the waterhole (or break room, as it were) about who got fired, who might be next, and what so-and-so in HR said. Until you’re actually fired (God forbid), the anxiety and uncertainly are self-imposed. Be positive.
2. Save your company money
There is no better time than now to pitch the idea to your boss that you’ve been sitting on. Everyone in management – all the way up the ladder – is looking for ways to save money and keep things running smoothly. You have an idea to streamline inter-departmental communication?
You’ve got an idea to sell additional work to the client on one of you company’s largest accounts? Your proposal will likely get more consideration now than it ever would have before. Be proactive.
3. Make sure you’re visible
Do you work until 9pm on Fridays without anyone besides the janitors knowing? Have you been modest as to how you’re able to complete your tasks so thoroughly? Stop being so modest. If you’re working hard, there’s nothing wrong with being recognized accordingly. It’s ok to brag a little, as long as you do it tastefully.
4. Proactively augment your skills
With departmental budgets drying up faster than government funding for education, it’s unlikely that the week-long training in Dubai you’ve been eyeing will become a reality.
Can you buy a book to study for that certification you’ve been wanting instead of attending the vendor-sponsored training in Miami? Consider using this opportunity to “take one for the team” and postpone it until business picks up again. Your boss – and conscience – might thank you for it.
5. Communicate regularly with management
There should never be a question as to what you’re working on and why it’s valuable to the company in the mind of your manager. If you’re working on something that’s due in six weeks, give weekly status reports to your boss. Stay on management’s radar with quick, strategic, semi-frequent updates or questions regarding whatever you’re doing.
6. Don’t overdo it
It’s good to be noticed for doing the right thing, but no one loves an office superhero. Unless your office is totally devoid of politics and infighting (it’s not), you’ll want to avoid situations where people have a reason to gang up on you.
People who don’t like you will be even more enraged when they see you going the extra mile. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t strive for excellence in your tasks – you should. Basically, try not to walk around in your Superman costume.
7. Be a part of the community
Most companies and departments have some type of quarterly gathering where attendance is optional. While it may be tempting to skip out on these events, you’ll definitely want to dust off the Hawaiian shirt or sun dress for this quarter’s get-together. Why not? Everyone’s in the same situation together, and this is a great time to show your commitment to the company, your team, and your coworker’s potato salad.
8. Align your goals with company goals
If you secretly aspire to be a professional ballroom dancer or fire-eater in the circus, now is not the best time to keep you coworkers informed about your progress. People will be subconsciously sizing each other up to find weaknesses and faults. An employee who doesn’t seem to have a great interest in being there is a prime target for termination.
9. Be a people person
Being important to the company sometimes takes a back seat to being liked by individuals in the company. The goal isn’t only to make yourself useful; you also want to be an integral part of the positive office chemistry.
Be known for your ability to work well with people. A smile when someone needs it, a jump when someone’s car breaks down, and openly recognizing someone for their assistance with a presentation or report will pay dividends in the long run. Simple acts of genuine kindness will help bolster your network with advocates who will stick up for you behind closed doors.
10. Don’t be careless
Sending personal emails while working, irresponsible use of your company credit card, and missing deadlines are excellent ways to get noticed for doing the wrong thing. You don’t want to make yourself look bad and more importantly, you don’t want to make you manager look back. Constantly evaluate your productivity and tasks while asking yourself how you can make your manager’s job (and life) easier.