Viagra handshakes, personal sleeper cells and Google alerts are just a few of the resources Stephen Viscusi recommends his readers in his new book, Bulletproof Your Job: 4 Simple Strategies to Ride Out the Rough Times and Come Out On Top at Work. Viscusi, a headhunter turned author, speaker, television journalist has been referred to as America’s workplace guru. His new book has been referred to by Publisher’s weekly as “Mommy meets Machiavelli”. Soon he’ll be staring in his own TV show, “The Headhunter from Hell”.
Stephen Viscusi, it’s a pleasure to have you join us, bulletproofing sounds like a rough game. Is it?
Bulletproofing ones job today, is a critical strategy, even for the employee, who has been getting good reviews, and thinks their job is safe. NO ONE IS SAFE ANYMORE! When the “R” word is used, "recession" let’s face it, it gives a boss an excuse for them to fire anyone. All the human resources rules, and even laws, can get thrown out the window because the boss can just say “it's the recession so we are downsizing”. It’s an excuse to clean house.
So I teach people "The Art of War" to keep your job at work. Look someone is going to go. Better it be the person in the next cubicle who has not read my book.
People tell me I teach tricks or schemes. I like to think of it as a strategy. Basically it comes down to getting personal with your boss. Let them know you as a person not just a employee. Your wife is sick? Tell the boss. Problem with the kid's? Share. Elder-parent care? The boss needs to know you as a person. It's easy to fire someone you know nothing about, but who can fire a guy who's wife just got cancer, or partner as AIDS?
During a recession is when firing decisions become more personal, not merit based, or based on seniority. When the boss says "it's NUMBERS thing...you are making too much” challenge the boss . "What is that number? I will take less, or work one day less but I want to keep my job! “
Loose your job today, and chances are you will be out for a year maybe two years. So you want to Bulletproof Your Job at all cost.
Can you give us a sense of your 4 Simple Strategies?
I’ve divided by book into four major areas of advice:
Be Visible: If your superiors don't see you or know who you are you're very easy to let go. That means showing up early and leaving late. This is the Sneaky Pete School of Management, though. It's fine to arrive five minutes earlier than your boss and leave 10 minutes later. Skip the two-hour lunches, and go to all those boring meetings.
Be Easy: This is a toxic time to kvetch. There are easy babies and cranky babies, and you know which one you are. Does your commute suck? Too bad! Is your cubicle too small? I don't want to hear it.
Be Useful: Going that extra mile will label you as an asset. It's time to become Mr. or Ms. Above and Beyond. Be a utility player who is capable of filling in anywhere, or be a specialist and razzle-dazzle your superiors.
Be Ready: Just in case your last-minute maneuvers don't pan out fortify your position with a solid bank account, a fresh résumé and a network of contacts.
You say only dumb employees believe that office politics doesn’t exist. How dangerous it to fail to play the game?
Very dangerous today. If you don’t want to play the office politics you might as well give yourself the ax! Every boss loves to say “we have no politics here”….yeah…right!
How do you advise people to deal with bad bosses?
In a recession, there is no such thing as a bad boss. Consider yourself lucky to have a job and a boss and suck it up till this crap ends. Which in my opinion will not be till the first quarter of 2011…yes your read that right 2011!
Financial numbers changing is not helping jobs come back. The Obama Job Summit was a joke and an insult to small businesses that need more money to create these jobs. Take my word for it, as the first George Bush learned the hard way. No matter how people love having a mixed-raced President that can read a teleprompter like Reagan, he will be a ONE TERM PRESIDENT, he does not learn what President Clinton taught us! It’s about JOBS STUPID!”
What type of employee’s best survive layoffs?
Nice ones….that boss’s like—even if they are not the best workers. The one’s that survive are low maintenance. They share some sad story about themselves to guilt the boss from firing them, and then perfect the art of looking busy. Telecommuting? Guess what? Out of site out of mind!
Do you realize if you come in 5 minutes before the boss—and stay 5 minutes later—the boss never knows what you are doing---just that you are always there. Smoke and mirrors yes but you keep your job dude! I guarantee it. Bosses hate to fire people they know and like—but it is easy to fire even the best worker, if you know nothing about them as a person
Finally…What’s a Viagra handshake?
A “FIRM HARD” shake—and it works for both men and woman!
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