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Where are you in the lay-off list?

There is no job security in the "new normal", regardless of position, industry or sector.

Knowledge workers in the new normal don't seek job security. They seek employability.

What is employability?

It is the ability to get hired fast when you're unemployed.

How do you do that?

Most managers carry a mental lay-off list, from first to last to be let go.

As a knowledge worker, you have three options:

1. Be in the first group to go.

2. Be in the last group to go.

3. Be in between the above two.

Here are some tips for you to stay in the last group:

1. Be a positive person.

2. Align with the company's core values.

3. Try your best to deliver your KPIs.

4. Ask for help.

5. Create value.

Be positive

Managers want a good attitude in their team members. During the good old days, they might have tolerated high achievers with a negative attitude. But in a time of crisis, no one wants someone with a bad attitude around.

Some indicators that you might be a negative person:

a. At least two people have told you so on different occasions. It could be a friend outside the workplace or a lunch buddy at the office. It could be your spouse or your boss saying similar things that imply you have a negative attitude.

b. When you walk into any group, people fade away. You can feel that people avoid you.

c. When you feel that people always misunderstand your good intentions. On many occasions you wonder to yourself: "I thought that was an honest comment, but why did he/she perceive that I had a negative attitude."

Align with core values

If you work in a large company, it will usually have a strong corporate culture or core values. The latter typically are integrity, teamwork, caring, professionalism and so on.

Check how well you're aligned with them. If there's a gap, how do you adjust?

In bad times, those who violate core values will rise to the "top" of the lay-off list.

If your company doesn't have explicit core values, try to look for norms. If you feel you don't quite fit with the norms, either change your behaviour or change companies.

Deliver your KPIs

Most people will not achieve all their key performance indicators during tough times. You will need to do things differently. But you also need to understand how well you're doing.  Here is a checklist:

a. What went well, that I need to maintain?

b. What went wrong, that I need to stop doing?

c. What will I need to do differently? A new initiative?

Then go to your boss for confirmation.

Ask for help

If you've already done the abovethree actions, you may need help. Ask for it. 

People misunderstood about asking for help.

a. Some believe asking for help is a sign of weakness; they never ask for help. This is untrue. If you have done your best and ask for help, that's professional.

b. Some people ask for help every time. That's a child, not a professional. Try your best, and if you still need help -- ask.

Create value

When business slows, your workload tends to be less. You will have more time to create other value. Here are some ideas to consider:

a. Improve your work quality. Ask your customers: how can I better service you?

b. Conduct training. It doesn't mean you need to run a classroom. There are many opportunities to train others at the company: new staff in your department, interns, even your suppliers to help them do a better job for you.

c. Increase your competencies. One reason people are being laid off is lack of skills. So volunteer for an additional role that enhances your skills: a new task force, a new project, a new quality improvement initiative. Use your existing strengths and learn high-value competencies such as presentation skills, English-language skills, project management skills and so on. Experience is the best teacher. The more you volunteer, the more you learn. The more you learn, the more value you have.

Practice the above ideas and you should stay off the lay-off list.

Kriengsak Niratpattanasai provides executive coaching in leadership and diversity management under TheCoach brand. He can be reached at Daily inspirational quotations can be found on his Facebook fan page: Previous articles are archived at