What Smart People Do to Keep Their Job

Afraid a pink slip could land on your desk? You’re not alone. According to a recent Associated Press poll, over half of U.S. workers are currently afraid their job is vulnerable. That’s twice as many as in 2008.

Yup, bad things happen to good people… but there is a bucket load of things you can do to keep your job, and crank it up at the same time.

There are the obvious. Come to work on time. Don’t cheat or steal. Meet your goals and deadlines. When calling on the top customer, leave the nose ring at home. Those are simple.

But here’s a more basic question: do you know what’s expected for your job?

That may sound like a crazy question, but if you are an employee in the U.S., there’s a good chance you’re not meeting expectations because you don’t even know what they are. According to a recent survey, fewer than 8 percent even know what their job expectations are! Yet when Business Week asked thousands of employees, “Are you in the top 10 percent of performers within your company?” between 87 and 97 percent (depending on their category) proclaimed they were in the top 10 percent! Funny… but not.

You may not even be close to hitting your expectations, even if you think you are. So, what do you do?

Start by working with your boss to define the top 4-5 critical drivers for your position and make sure you’re hitting them. If you’re not clear on the outcomes for your job, stop blowing smoke—how can you think you’re doing a good job when you don’t even know what the outcomes are?

Sure, it would help if your boss outlined that for you. But if your boss doesn’t, stop whining about it and create the plan yourself.

Here’s how. If you’re a personal banker, pop into your boss’s office and say, “Yo chief, I want to rock it this year. To do that, I need to make sure I understand what ‘it’ is.” Okay, you can take that down a bit… but hey, if you do meet those goals, she’ll probably LET you call her chief.

Then, begin the self-management process with, “Okay then, I think the top initiatives for this position are: cross sales average, dollars of new core deposits, customer service scores, and retention of ‘A’ rated clients. Am I off or missing anything?” “Okay, then if those are the five things, I have taken the liberty to take a stab at what I think the numbers should be for each of those and I’d like to make sure I’m on track with your expectations.”

Smokin! Now that you know what you’re supposed to do, you can DO it! And it only took five minutes! Sure beats complaining for weeks on end that you don’t know what you’re supposed to do, saying “nobody every tells me nothing.” (Endless whining could be one of the leading indicators that you’re about to give someone permission to “free up your future.”)

Let’s face it, if you miss expectations—whether they’re presented clearly or not—you’re massively vulnerable. So take charge. Lay them out… and then exceed them. No excuses. Engaged employees get results, and results rock!

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