Thursday, June 04, 2009

Redundancies ... where do we stand?

These are trying times. Redundancy is the threat we are all facing right now. So how do we cope with this fear, especially when it's all anyone is talking about in the office?
  1. Know what you do well - have you had an appraisal lately? If yours is due soon, it might become a very useful tool, not only to remind your boss of how valuable you are but also as a basis for updating your CV. So give some time to remembering examples of what you've done really well during the last 12 months. Examples are key - they are your only evidence - otherwise anything you say looks like bravado. Where do you find these examples? Look back through your emails (sent items as well as inbox). And, if you've not been in the habit of saving emails of good feedback, now is the right time to start.
  2. Update your CV - do it now. Go on! Whether you need it or not, it will make you feel better about yourself. It will remind you of just how far you've come.
  3. Network - it's not only what you know, it's who you know. What you want is for other people in your firm to be singing your praises, not just your boss/department. Do you get involved in "corporate social responsibility" projects, volunteering etc? Do you have good contacts with the people who really matter, like the guys in the post room, accounts, archives? What can you do to make their day better? Sometime ago I noticed that the reprographics feedback form (sent to find out if the job they'd done was satisfactory) was getting pretty much unreadable. They were photocopying (what else!) an old one, having lost the original and no-one there had the skills to create a new form. So I just retyped it and emailed it to them, so they could always just print a new supply. Took me 5 mins. But since then I've noticed I get great service from them - always getting my jobs back quickly. (And yes, I did include this as an example on my appraisal form!)
  4. Resist the urge to complain - joining in with the moaning won't really help you feel any better now will it? So make an excuse and go to the loo or something when the inevitable discussions about redundancy start up. The more time you spend talking about redundancy, cutbacks, reduced hours working, the more you worry. You'll find out soon enough if it's going to affect you personally.
  5. Act as if it's already happened - what changes can you make to your personal finances now to prepare yourself in case the worst happens? Make a spreadsheet of your regular monthly income and outgoings, remembering to include the cash you draw out each week as well as all your direct debits, standing orders etc. Go back through your last few months of bank statements as a reminder of exactly what you've been drawing out in cash, spending on trips to the supermarket etc. Then take a look at what's left at the end of the month. If there's a surplus, you are doing fine, there'll be something left for you to put into a savings account (and let's face it, it's too easy to just blow what's left in your current account at the end of the month on extra treats rather than put it away for a rainy day). If there's a shortfall, you have some serious thinking to do. What can you do without - honestly? Do you need that DVD monthly subscription? Daily posh coffee? How many new shoes/clothes do you really need? Also it's usually possible to reduce your food shopping bill by quite a large amount by planning weekly menus and sticking to them, rather than getting takeaways because you can't think of what to cook. And you can go to a cheaper supermarket too. I used to shop at Waitrose - but for now I'm using Lidl. Basic fresh foods are really cheap and good quality. There's not the big range, but frankly I'm interested more in nutrition than impressing the family with fancy stuff on the plate. And remember, it's not Christmas every week - keep luxuries/treats for special times, not all the time. We've all got used to having what we want when we want it and frankly, it's not good for us!
  6. Relax - all this worry is exhausting so make sure you allow yourself some time just for you. If all you can manage is to take a soothing bath before bed, then do it. One of the best ways of handling the fear of losing your job is with EFT (visit, or tapping as it's sometimes called. It's a quick technique you can learn easily and use for any stressful situation. Since I trained as an EFT practitioner I've been amazed at how powerful it can be. Contact me if you want to know more - I'd be glad to help.

The bottom line here is that by taking some action, you'll begin to feel a bit more in control and the fear will reduce. I know - because I've done all of the above and I'm feeling OK. It doesn't mean I'm immune but I know that ultimately I'm in charge of my life and no matter what happens I'll get through it.

You can too.

Let me know if you need more help.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Problems, problems ...

We've all seen the Secretary's Prayer:

"Dear Lord, help me to do my work well, to have the memory of an elephant and by some miracle to be able to do five things at once - answer two telephone calls, greet a guest, find a file, all while typing a letter that "must go out today." When that letter doesn't get signed until tomorrow, please give me the strength to keep my mouth shut.

Dear Lord, never let me lose my patience, even when the boss has me searching files for hours for a report that is later discovered on his desk.

Give me the intelligence of a university professor, although my education is limited to only a diploma or a university degree lower than my boss's, and even if I have not had any formal secretarial training.

Help me to read his mind, to decipher his handwriting, and to carry out all his instructions which are often given without any explanation.

Let me always know exactly where my boss is and when he'll be back, even though he may never tell me where he is going.

And Lord, when the year ends, please give me the foresight not to throw out records that will be asked for in a couple of days, even though I was told emphatically, "destroy these - they are cluttering up the place."

At first glance this is quite funny. But there's a lot of truth in there. It really sums up what a secretary's strengths are.

What is the toughest challenge you've had to face at work?

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

So what DO secretaries want?

A good place to start is to know precisely what we want to get from our jobs.

What do we secretaries really want?

Has anyone ever asked us before?

I doubt it.

Have we ever stopped to think about it ourselves?

Most likely not.

We spend lots of time thinking and talking about what we DON'T want. But how much time do we spend considering what would make our working lives and home lives better?

We're intelligent people - our bosses rely on us to make their lives run more smoothly. Isn't it time we started to consider what would make our own lives run more smoothly?

Six years ago I qualified as a life coach. I have access to some resources which I believe can help us to make our working lives more enjoyable - after all we spend a large part of our lives at work .

So - what are the biggest problems you face every day?

Pass the word on to any other secretaries you know. Let's get a discussion going here and see where it takes us ...

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Everything changes ...

Most of my working life has been spent as a secretary. Medical, legal. Full time, part time. Permanent, temporary. All fascinating.

I've seen a lot of change in the workplace. Learned keyboard skills on a manual typewriter. Did shorthand. Now it's digital dictation, document management systems, email, and so on.

Way back then secretaries were told "if you can type, you'll never be out of a job". Is that still true?

One thing's for sure - keyboard skills are a part of the modern world, so we have a distinct advantage over many people.

But the workplace is evolving. There's more change to come. Technological advances mean fewer people are needed in the office.

What does the future hold for secretaries then?

I believe we need to evolve too.

It's no longer enough to be able to type accurately & fast, to take messages, to answer the phone.

We need a new set of skills if we're going to survive.

We need to stay one step ahead of the game.

That's what this blog is about.