Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Staying employable!

Grappling to stay employed? Don't fret, say industry experts, you can make yourself indispensable.

Just 6 months back, who'd have thought employability would become a point of contention. And now, people across the Indian corporate world are having sleepless nights, fretting over how to hold on to their jobs. The key to this, as experts and HR managers say, lies in having the right mindset and certain attributes which will keep you sailing through. Here are some sure-shot ways of staying employable even in a bad economy.

Crisis management skills: This entails the skill of responding intelligently to a certain difficult situation by coming up with effective solutions and viable alternatives. "This is the time to confront and not avoid uncomfortable truths about yourself and the organisation," explains Ajay Soni, business leader - talent & organisation consulting, Hewitt. "It's also important to discuss these brutal facts and act to overcome them," he adds.

Multitasking: In a downturn, a generalist scores over a specialist as s/he can multitask, thereby, creating value. "One should focus on having cross functional skills and be open to different job roles," opines Diptarup Chakraborti, principal research analyst, Gartner. "Many might have latent talent, this is the time to tap that," he asserts. Surely, this also gives many of us the chance to do something we might be good at and have not been able to do.

"Employees must look at smarter ways of doing things, cutting where necessary, and keeping a steadfast eye on growth," - Ajay Soni, business leader - talent & organisation consulting, Hewitt

Customer Focus: This is the time to be closest to your customers, even if there's no business coming in immediately. That's the only way to understanding their needs and be able to reequip yourself and the organisation to meet the new customer demands. "Individuals who have outstanding customer relationship with their clients are the most vital resources for the company as they create sustainable business," notes Sanjay Jha, executive director, Dale Carnegie Training India. "It's important to go beyond the silos within the organisation and be closer to the customer," adds Soni.

Financial Intelligence: It is important to be familiar with the basic of the organisation's top line and bottom line, so that you can estimate the likely impact of your performance and the repercussions of non-performance. "In a downturn, you need people who have their eye on the costs," explains Judhajit Das, chief – HR, ICICI Prudential Life.

Flexibility and Adaptability: Challenging economic environment requires pragmatic response based on a holistic view. "This demands a high adaptability," says Jha. "It calls for energy and enthusiasm to learn new things, explore new roles and responsibilities," elaborates Srini K, head - strategy, HR, Satyam.

Citing the Indian IT case, Chakraborti explains, "Being geographically mobile is critical as big IT firms like Infosys have centres all across." He further adds, "If the business in one centre goes down, employee should be open to relocation to another centre where there's more project work etc." He feels many in the Indian IT sector have a narrow outlook. "Take the recent case of Wipro which faced opposition from employees for shifting them from IT business to BPO business in its Kolkatta centre," he adds. "Employees should deeply reflect on roles in the context of current business environment and modify accordingly," Das suggests.

High Performance Focus: Every sector and business needs high performers, so no matter where you are, you should be seen as a performer. "Employees must look at smarter ways of doing things, cutting where necessary, and keeping a steadfast eye on growth," Soni points out. "You must have the drive to succeed and excel even in the worst of market scenarios," asserts Srini K.

Surely, this is no mammoth task and any one of us can hone these skills by being more self-aware and making an effort. "Individuals can acquire these skills through training, experience, reading and job exposure," says Jha. Chakraborti believes that HR managers have a huge role in fostering these skills in employees. "HR managers should identify employee skills other than what are being used and channel that accordingly," he stresses.

To out it in a nutshell, if you follow these simple tips and adhere to what experts suggest, you will definitely come out a survivor!

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