I'm not exactly sure what's happening at your office, but I can guess it mirrors, to some degree, what workers are facing where I sit.
Everyone - from executives to junior assistants - is nervous about keeping their jobs.
The economy was already taking a dive when those planes dove into the World Trade Center. Since Sept. 11, the stock markets have been rocky, companies have laid off workers and salaries are taking it on the chin. If they're not frozen, they're being reduced by 10, 15 or 20 percent until . . . well, I guess until someone other than the folks behind Harry Potter are making money again.
So what's a working stiff with bills to pay and mouths to feed supposed to do? Three things come immediately to mind.
Prove Your Worth
First, pay your own salary.
This may come as a shock to some, but theoretically, every employee should produce enough or enable their employer to make enough money to pay their salaries, benefits, insurance and then some. "Then some" is a technical term for profit.
As a business reporter for a daily newspaper, I know how many articles I need to write to pay my way. How do I know? I researched the monthly output of the best writers in my newsroom and matched that.
But lately, I've quietly increased my output, written a few extra things, offered to help out on long-term projects, heck, I've even written a few obituaries lately. Am I nuts? Only if the sane thing to do during a recession is to look bored when my publisher cuts through the newsroom on his way to another budget meeting.
Stop and think. What can you do to increase efficiency and contribute to the bottom line at your organization?
Which brings us to point number two.
Cultivate Old Contacts
Shrewd employees will contact or facilitate contacting every client their firm has ever done any work for and see if they can do some follow-up work.
For executives, that might mean flying to see old clients and drafting elaborate proposals. But even the most junior office worker can come to work 20 minutes early each day to carefully compile an up-to-date list of clients and give it to the boss.
Idea number three.
Identify with the Boss
No one knows how many businesses will be seriously hurt during this recession, but I know that for many, the next six months will find them knitting together very small projects to keep going.
The employees who understand management's perspective and put their thinking caps on to help their organizations survive will be the ones who avoid pink slips.
So, don't be too proud to take the small jobs. And while you're at it - bend over backwards to deliver.
One final thought: If you find a project that really is too small or inappropriate for your firm, offer to link the client with a service provider you have worked with and trust. They may just return the favor.