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How to be layoff-proof.


Most of you now know that a job in telecommunications today is not forever. Mergers, acquisitions, downsizing, consolidations and reorganizations are normal occurrences. Company employees by the thousands are either being terminated or retired early. It is no different in the telecomm management profession.

Sometimes all the advance planning in the world won't prevent your untimely departure from your company. But with the right approach, and the right attitude, you can help yourself remain at work longer than your peers.

Keep Up To Date

The first thing you must do is keep up to date on your company. This of course links with your ongoing activities in which you keep abreast of your firm's business. This includes reading the financial pages, annual reports, internal news bulletins, being tied into the company grapevine, and others.

The more informed you are about your company, the better prepared you are to spot the warning signs.

In previous columns we have talked about building your own golden parachute, in case you leave the company unceremoniously.

Educate Yourself

We have also talked about the importance of educating yourself, building a support network of other professionals, getting involved in user organizations and strengthening the ties with your family.

These are all important in your plans. Now here are a few more areas which will help increase your overall value to your company.

Once again, if the wheels are in motion, you may already be targeted for dismissal. If you can "read the tea leaves" early enough, you may be able to get the job relocation process underway before you are suddenly terminated.

That is indeed about the worst feeling: getting terminated with no advance warning.

It happened to me; it may have happened to you at some time in your career. It leaves an indelible impression.

It also won't happen to me again!

Let's look at a few areas, outside of the typical career planning or resuscitation activities.

These issues can boost your "corporate" status in the firm. They can help raise your visibility in the firm, and could increase your perceived value to management.

Again, if the door is opening, all you might be able to do is buy some time, but it might be enough to get "Plan B" activated.

The quality process should be a regular part of your activities.

For example, when planning a telephone system, make sure you listen to department heads, operations managers, secretaries, and all the other priority contacts within each functional group of the company. Learn about the specific communications needs within these units.

Build Expertise

Become an expert in terms of how the company functions. Develop a quality statement for your department. Tie it into the firm's quality direction.

If the company doesn't have a quality program, start one. Make a commitment to do the right job right, the first time.

Boost your forecasting and capacity planning.

Utilize forecasting programs and capacity planning tools wherever possible. This also includes project management programs. System forecasts should be reviewed and updated at least every quarter for all locations.

Generate reports and demand/capacity charts to assist in determining your future hardware or software additions during the five-year planning cycle.

Have capacity planning information well in advance; it will prevent last minute rushes. It also prevents embarrassing situations.

Plenty of discussion occurs today about the strategic importance of telecomm. Have you tried to figure out what that really means? Consider the following:

* broaden your focus to happenings at both the federal and state levels;

* observe the introduction of new products and services;

* tune in to the international market;

* watch movements of the competition (particularly your company's);

* analyze the trends in mergers and acquisitions;

* keep an eye on costs.

Telecomm professionals cannot afford tunnel-vision. You must continually assess the dynamics of the industry, both as a separate entity and in the larger context of a globally competitive economy.

From that perspective you should try to make planning decisions that have a broader impact on your firm as a whole, as well as its competitive position.

Begin concentrating on strategic issues as well as operational ones.

Don't miss the big picture!

Build Contingency Plans

Create network backup plans protect your firm's investment in telecommunications. These investments will be worthwhile; they willl provide peace of mind for you.

Build your industry knowledge. Subscribe to a weekly newspaper and a monthly technical magazine that addresses your primary interests. Read another that helps you grow in other areas.

Try at least one newsletter, or one that abstracts articles from numerous other publications. In short, siphon the best and most relevant information.

Attend Shows

Travel to at least one major trade show/conference a year. Find one that provides both technical education and product knowledge.

Increase your negotiating skills. Negotiation is a critical skill for communications executives.

Skilled negotiators are made, not born. To acquire the best communications and information systems, at the best price, users should take every opportunity to sharpen their negotiating skills. Take a class on negotiating; several are available today.

You can also try a cassette program on the subject.

Your best bet when entering anynegotiations is to be well prepared before sitting at-the table.

Put a consultant on your list. Look into consultants if your staff is overloaded with projects, if several people are on vacation, out sick, etc., or if a rush projects comes along that cannot be handled by your present staff.

Don't feel threatened by a consultant. In most cases, a consultant is there because your workload is simply too much for another project or the consultant is providing a unique skill you don't have available.

Check references, review earlier projects and negotiate a workable fee structure.

If you're nervous about promoting a plan to management, you're not alone. Every telecomm professional is faced with the task of selling a concept or program to management.

Remember, no telecomm program can be implemented until it has been accepted by management. The program must be presented as a business case, even after a telecomm plan has been sold to management, the ultimate test is to make it work.

That frequently means it must be sold to end users. Beyond technical consideration, you must develop solutions that support corporate business objectives.

It is also important to know how to make a good presentation. That includes both verbal and visual elements. Look into a presentation skills or selling skills program.

Public Speaking

Improve your public speaking andwriting. Speaking to a group of people is often one of the most frightening experiences you'll face as a professional. Make sure you prepare your remarks before delivering them. Practice before speaking, if you have the time.

Take a course in public speaking. Make sure you have good visuals to augment your remarks. Writing clearly and concisely is just as important as speaking.

Telecomm managers, like all other managers, have to write reports, memos, letters, and other documents. While there are as many books on the subject of writing as there are speaking, some vital points are worth mentioning.

Before writing, create an outline. Second, see if you have previous reports in file you can use as models.

Third, after writing the report, make sure your boss or somebody on your staff reviews it before it gets distributed. Fourth, wait 24 hours before editing it to let the pride of ownership feeling disappear. Fifth, use word processing whenever possible. Sixth, write concisely. Write in the traditional subject-verb-object format.

Summarize items in lists, rather than with long paragraphs. Include an Executive Summary at the beginning.

Strengthen your interpersonal communications. Improve your communications and your "people skills" will carry you far.

Look directly at people when speaking to them. Good eye contact is very important. Keep body motions to a minimum. Stand tall, or sit up straight at a table.

Project a successful appearance.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
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Author:Kirvan, Paul
Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Previous Article:Teleconferencing has its own association.
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