How to Keep Your Job

Knowing how to keep your job might be one of the most important skills in your frugal living tool box. Regardless of the state of the economy, having a job beats having to look for one.

Getting fired or laid off turns your world upside down, and no one needs that kind of stress. So, focus on keeping your job so you can decide when to jump ship to another or better opportunity.

It's always easier to get a job when you have one, so hang onto the one you have until you are ready to make a change.

Key Concepts for How to Keep Your Job

There are four key concepts to retaining employment. They're probably easier to understand than they are to implement, so you might want to invest some time in making these a pattern of thinking and acting.

  1. Practice mentally putting yourself in the shoes of management. That means thinking about what a supervisor, a manager, or the owner(s) of the company need and want from you. Provide what they need and want, and you've upped your chances of keeping your job.

  2. It's important to be a visible and meaningful player in the organization. You don't have to be a squeaky wheel, just don't go unnoticed.

  3. There is no such things as job security. There is really only opportunity, so be looking for opportunities to keep your job instead of assuming that you have some level of security.

  4. No one enjoys terminating an employee, so much of how to keep your job is really more a matter of how not to lose it. For the most part, it's your job to keep as long as you don't mess things up.

Let's look at how to keep your job as a list of do's and dont's, with a bit of discussion and examples to make things clear. Consider these to be tactics you'll employ and practice that implement the four "how to keep your job" concepts noted above.

How to Keep Your Job - Do These Things

The following lists of activities focuses on the first, second and third "how to keep your job" concepts noted above. None of them are "cookie cutter" simple, but they are effective if you study the behavior and practice it when you can.

  • Know and Achieve Management Objectives - a two step process that is perhaps the most important "to do" on your list. The first step is to assess what management truly needs and wants. Generally that will be:
    • more work
    • better quality work
    • satisfied customers
    • reduced costs associated with mistakes and disruptions
    • teamwork
    • improved efficiency

    Once you've identified what management's objectives are, then you can take action to achieve them in a coordinated manner with management. This will likely require taking on more responsibilities, and so be it.

    The primary job of management is to perform tasks that subordinates can't do. If you take on additional responsibilities, then you're helping to carry the load. This makes you more valuable than other employees because you're now in effect part of the management team working to achieve company objectives.

  • Reduce Management Burden - this simply entails being less of a burden on management. If you need supervision, direction, guidance and course correction during your work day, then you are a management burden that keeps management from doing more.

    Review the first concept discussed above - put yourself in the shoes of management - and then ask yourself if what management needs and wants is more time spent babysitting portions of the work force. The answer should be obvious. The more burden you place on management, the more you stick out like a sore thumb.

    Are you wondering how to keep your job? Stop sticking out like a sore thumb.

  • Have Added Value - this is something that anyone can do if they really want to. Employ a new skill on the job (learn one if you have to), help out on a project, fill a niche need, and so forth.

    Make certain that your added value is appreciated by management before you offer it. Things that aren't appreciated won't be recognized or rewarded.

    Also, make certain that you being a "hero" doesn't get "lost in the sauce" and go unnoticed by management. Your added value must be recognized. After all, this is part of how to keep your job - by being a valuable employee.

  • Take Reasonable Risks - here you could attempt to solve a problem or accept a new and challenging position, or take over on a failing project. With risks come rewards like recognition, if you're successful. One sure way of being recognized is to fail, so choose your risk taking carefully.

    Note that the consequences of failure are about the same, no matter how big a failure you make, so taking larger risks has a greater potential for success than it does for adverse consequences.

  • Be Aware of Politics - anytime you get more than one person together, you have politics. Everyone knows someone else and everyone has certain people they trust and like and listen to, regardless of the official chain of command and organizational structure.

    Use the informal communications and relationships between people to get noticed as a valuable employee. Know the relationships between people so you know when it's in your best interest to do someone a favor or discuss your achievements.

How to Keep Your Job - Don't Do These Things

In accordance with the fourth "how to keep your job" concept noted above, I offer the following advice on how to keep your job by recognizing that it's really mostly a matter of being your job to loose.

Various "land mines" permeate the landscape of employment. You can't always avoid them, but keeping your eyes open for potential problems and acting deliberately to avoid problems is always a good course of action. If possible avoid:

  • Being placed in the "kill zone" - supervisors and managers are often in the "kill zone" because that's typically where performance is measured. The problem is that your performance as a supervisor or manager is measured by the performance of others under your wing, and you might not have control over that.

    There's nothing wrong with being in the "kill zone" by choice, as long as you can handle the pressure, but don't get set up for failure by being placed there unless you're ready.

    Once I interviewed for a job that would have placed me in the "kill zone" and the whole thing just didn't feel right. I was to be the project manager on a project that was in trouble. I could see myself as the scapegoat for the project. As the new kid on the block, I could be sacrificed without much concern. I never took the job.

    Do you know how to keep you job? Don't leave it to be set up for failure in a new one.

  • Offending management "pets" - every manager has a pet or two on the staff. Offend these people, and you'll torque off the manager as well as give the "pet" some reason to turn against you. Use your knowledge of politics to understand the real organization chart and avoid offending some of the players and "pets" in the management circle.

  • Making end runs - this is the classic "going over someone's head" move that is really a bad idea unless you want to spoil a relationship. It makes people think that you're doing something behind their back and you can't be trusted.

    As an example, you go around your supervisor to speak to the manager about something you'd like to get addressed. That's an end run, and it won't build up any "brownie points" with the supervisor. You should at least "get the nod" from the supervisor to address the issue with higher management.

    Sometimes, you're placed in a position where a senior manager comes directly to you to get something done. Don't pass up the opportunity to shine, but keep your supervisor informed so he/she doesn't think you've initiated the "end run."

  • Giving them excuses to dismiss you - if you're in an environment of staff reduction, you don't want to give management any excuse to terminate you. It doesn't matter that you're a good employee, what matters is that management has an objective of staff reduction and they're on the prowl for some sort of grounds for dismissal. That's all they need is a good juicy excuse. Here are some:
    • late for work
    • taking too many sick days
    • insubordination
    • failing to fess up to honest mistakes
    • dress code violations
    • too many personal days off
    • personal calls and interference of friends and family in the workplace

  • Getting sloppy - an acquaintance of mine had a job collecting money from parking meters. He was an honest guy, but a little on the gullible side. One day some of the coins from a parking meter fell out on the ground and he picked them up and put them in his pockets.

    He emptied his pockets into the bags that were intended to capture the coins, but left a few in his pockets because he had change in his pockets to begin with. His mistake was commingling the coins. That was sloppy.

    As it turned out, marked coins had been placed in meters along his route and some came up missing during a daily audit. When questioned about the missing coins, he explained what had happened, and showed them the coins in his pockets. One of the marked coins was in his pocket and he was dismissed.

    Consider your situation and the consequences or appearance of your actions. When dealing with money, you have to be very careful, exact and deliberate about your actions. One man's sloppiness is another man's justification for termination of employment.

  • Becoming the problem to be solved - this is a classic situation that occurs in just about any situation that you can imagine. You might have a legitimate complaint or problem that needs solving. If you insist on getting it solved and your manager isn't as timely in resolution as you might like, then you become the problem because you keep raising it as an issue.

    If you're an easier problem to solve than the one you first complained about, then you're the problem that gets "fixed" and the real problem remains as is. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets a "pink slip" instead of a little grease.

  • Being out of sight in turbulent times - another of the classic mistakes you can make. If there is a mood of staff reduction, layoff, cutting out dead wood and so forth, you might not want to take that vacation or otherwise be out of touch with what's going on.

    A talented manager I know of was transferred out of an organization because he was an easy target. There was trouble at the office and he took time off to go out of town for a week. When he got back, he didn't have the job he had when he left.

    If a company is considering layoffs or staff reduction, the last thing you want to demonstrate is that the organization can function well without you. If things are going well and you're not around, then you might be viewed as expendable.

    Wonder how to keep your job? Be there to argue against changing your employment status. Make it difficult by being there so they have to look you right in the eye.

Wrapping it Up

Frugal living presents its own set of challenges, especially if you're on a "fixed income" like most people (whether you're retired or full-time employed). There is no sense in making your frugal living adventure even more exciting by loosing your job because of events and circumstances that can be prevented or managed.

In many respects, how to keep your job is a lot like how to earn more money, but until you're in a position to demand more pay for your work, you might be satisfied with simply keeping your job.

In the play book of how to keep your job, there are things you want to do that promote your employment, and things you want to steer clear of. Both require some focus and practice. Getting along at work can be very different than getting along in other social environments, and the consequences are also very different.

Learn how to keep your job and you'll be in a better position to find other employment if you so choose. It's always easier to find a job if you have one, so hang onto the one you have now.

Done with How to Keep Your Job, take me back to Managing Money

There certainly is a broad scope of topics here at Frugal Living Freedom. When you think about it, money permeates so very many activities in our lives, therefore, being frugal encompasses a wide range of interests, from being employed to taking a vacation, and just about everything in between. Enjoy the variety, pick up some new ideas, and start making frugality a part of your signature.

I'm a big proponent of being debt-free, and I mean entirely debt-free - no mortgage payment. It's not essential for financial freedom, but you'll love the feeling once you get there. If you didn't have a rent or mortgage payment, how much more could you do for yourself with your current level of income? I suspect plenty.

If you ever hope to see an abundance of wealth, you need to plug the hole in your boat. The wealthy don't necessarily make lots of money, instead, they know how to hang onto what they make, and make it work for them.