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Executive Body Armor

I have been laid off twice.  The first time was unpleasant.  The second time, I was out of work for five months and had to move five hundred miles in order to get another position.  I consider myself lucky.  A good friend of mine was out of work for eighteen months before he found work and another friend has been out for two years and counting.

Sometimes, layoffs are unavoidable.  For example, if your employer is acquired by another company there is very little you can do to bulletproof your job.  However, I believe that there are things that each of us can do to make it less likely that our position will be eliminated as a result of downsizing.  Here are a few ways to distinguish yourself from your co-workers:

  • Find ways to improve productivity
  • Never disagree in public with your manager or senior management
  • Focus on creating error-free documents and presentations
  • Accept additional responsibilities; better yet, volunteer for them
  • Be self-confident; including being confident enough to admit your mistakes
  • Demonstrate a positive attitude, honesty, enthusiasm and flexibility

Your goal is to distinguish yourself from your peers.  Remember this old joke — When you and your best friend are being chased by an angry bear, you don’t need to run faster than the bear, you only have to run faster than your friend.

Michael Dennis, MBA, CBF, LCM

My opinion is that each of us should make sure we are running faster than our peers.  What’s your opinion?

Michael Dennis’ Covering Credit Commentary. Michael’s website is  www.coveringcredit.com

The opinions presented are those of the author.  The opinions and recommendations do not necessarily reflect the views of CMA, or their Officers and Directors.  Readers are encouraged to evaluate any suggestions or recommendations made, and accept and adopt only those concepts that make sense to them.

6 Responses to “Are You Bulletproof? – Michael Dennis, CBF”

  1. Jodi Owens says:

    I enjoyed your article Michael 🙂

  2. Dorothy Siegel says:

    So, your advise is to run faster than your friend. You are definitely getting more laid back. When we worked together, you would be more likely to trip your friend than to try to out run him 🙂

    Just kidding. Nice essay!

  3. Karen Buckinghan says:

    I am uneasy with the idea that any of us can bulletproof our jobs. I think the best we can do is to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

  4. Eddy Sumar says:

    Thought provoking notion!

    In a world hallmarked by constant change and termed imperfect, it is rather difficult to bullet proof anything. But we can work at making our position as credit professionals more valuable, more visible, and more vital for our companies. This could lessen the probability of getting laid-off in the first rounds of lay-offs.

    When companies merge and positions become redundant, usually it is the most valuable and most versatile employees that are kept. So the questions to ask ourselves are: Am I working at making myself valuable and versatile? Am I showing to my employer that I am 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, etc. people in one? Am I vital for the operations of the company?

  5. F. Scott Wilson says:

    Interesting article, but I think “bullet resistant” is a better way to go. I’ve been laid off from a couple of jobs where I was the best credit manager the company had, and there was no way to avoid it in either instance.

    In the first case, I dropped bad debt to 0.006% (that’s $15K against a total revenue of $250M annually) and brought the accounts to 95% on-time payment, both firsts for the company and our industry. My reward was three weeks of severance, two months of medical, and the warm excuse of “you did everything we needed you to do.”

    The second company laid me off after I successfully integrated several outlying offices into a centralized regional credit facility, dropped the excess headcount, improved DSO and the timeliness of lien filings, reducing the costs and improving the efficiency of the credit function. The CFO decided after looking at my job for two months that she could do it better (I was there for about a year), and laid me off.

    It was cold comfort that in both instances, almost immediately after my departure, DSO skyrocketed, bad debt ballooned, and several of the key accounts I had painstakingly maintained bolted for other vendors. It’s not as easy as it looks to handle Credit, but some CFO’s never get that memo.

  6. Michael Dennis says:

    Great point. I wish I could change the title to: Are you Bullet Resistant?

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