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By , August 26, 2010 8:40 am

Building job security is simple but it sure isn’t easy.

“Are you adding real value or merely passing information along? How do you add value? By continually looking for ways to make things better. …Every hour of your day should be spent increasing the output or value of the output of the people for whom you are responsible.” Andy Grove on job security.

Why do  some people appear to be bullet-proof when lay offs and bad economic times force many very talented executives onto the unemployment lines? Your value to the company is based on many attributes, but the bottom line IS the bottom line. As the CEO of your career, how you contribute and how you invest in the contributions of your team are critical factors for career stability.

It’s not about you. It’s about your perceived value to the company.

Invest in your corporate personal brand. During a particularly difficult economic downturn, one of my clients feared he’d be laid off as the company downsized. Instead, he was offered more responsibility and a better title. His peers were dismissed and even his boss was asked to leave.

How did he manage to hang on? His internal brand was “consensus builder” or “collaborator.” He had accomplished significant tasks that required intra- and extra-departmental cooperation. For example, he was the first executive to get product management and engineering working smoothly. And he made darned sure the CEO and his manager knew about it.

He didn’t brag. He simply kept progress towards that goal in their radar. The whiteboard where both teams tracked their sprints was open for public viewing. The CEO frequently browsed the board to reassure himself things were on track.

He acknowledged the teams’ progress through corporate recognition, celebrations and public awards (Starbucks played a heavy role) and certificates for milestones. He submitted quarterly reports in which he called out challenges and solutions and progress towards resolution.

And he implemented a program where every one of his people knew exactly what was required of them at all times. They could measure and improve their own performance without managerial oversight; morale was high and laughter and applause were often heard from the products area.

There were no surprises. Since everyone knew precisely what their performance must look like, they were keen to point out obstacles and possible solutions.

At the end of the day, his products group had no unwanted turnover, morale was high and productivity, exceptional. The bottom line? More product innovations, better product stability and new releases more often. The sales force applauded their efforts and the customers were happy.

Ultimately, he did as Andy Grove recommends. He focused on adding value, not simply passing information.

Keys to his success: He invested in training his team to know their job, how to communicate obstacles and he created a tradition of recognition that kept his personal brand alive and well.

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Would you like support creating your own personal brand? Contact me to discuss executive coaching. Let’s create your own job security.


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