Your Employees Always Know

Have you ever thought to yourself, my employees have no idea what I make, or they have no idea what our profit is on this or something similar? Well let me tell you something: you’re wrong.

There are no secrets in a company. Your employees know.

I once took over at a refrigerator warehouse company and began my job by dramatically slashing the owner’s salary, which was not simply too high for the owner of a failing company in need of a turnaround professional but too high for the owner of any company this size. Oh, and I also fired his grandmother whose salary was also a pretty penny too high.

Later that same afternoon I was surveying the warehouse which was a mile away from the offices and headquarters, and a forklift driver pulls up alongside me. He says, congratulations on firing grandma and reducing the boss’s salary – he should never have been making so much money.

Not only did this random employee already know that I’d done both of these things, but he knew that grandma was on the payroll and the boss was making way too much beforehand.

I’m telling you – your employees always know. There are no secrets.

That leads me to a few pieces of advice:

1. Ensure that all of your employees sign a non-compete/non-disclosure confidentiality agreement. All of them, no matter their position.

2. If you have things that truly must be kept secret, think longer and harder about who has access to that information, what computer(s) it resides on, etc. Despite the fact that everyone is working on or around it, I’m sure that the secret formula for Coca Cola is still secret.

3. Accept that certain information will be public, and use the knowledge of its publicity to your advantage.

What have you been surprised to learn that your employees know?

“I Would Like to Say That Your Jobs Are Safe”

To a lot of people out there, this is no laughing matter (though thank you for the chuckle, Working Daze). Their jobs are on the line or long gone. They’re out of work, looking for work or at least brushing up their resumes.

If you’re one of these people, it’s hard to give you concrete advice that’s going to yield employment soon. Yes, we’re hearing that the economy is improving and that unemployment is creeping down (however slowly), but in my opinion, these numbers are a bit doctored. Not in any particularly malicious way, but at the end of the day, I believe that unemployment is flat and will hold where it is for a while (if it doesn’t get worse…).

So what can you do?

As someone who has – and I’m sorry this is so – had to lay off a lot of people in his day, I know how horrible it is to see people put out of work. But for every job I have to end, five are saved along with a company that would otherwise have collapsed under the weight of divisions and personnel that it didn’t need. Not many laid-off people take solace in this knowledge, but there’s no manager, CEO, president or leader who wishes to lose good people.

Stand Up and Stand Out

If you’re in a division or business that’s getting downsized or eliminated, you need to do your best to stand out as someone who is indispensable. You may have heard in the past that if you are so good at your job that no one else could do it then you can never move up because you can’t be done without where you are. True as that may be in great times, these aren’t those, and you’re going to need to stand out as exemplary and someone without whom things will not run well.

You can do this by bringing ideas to management, both right above you, and if it’s called for, higher up the ladder. When I go into a business to restructure it, I often promote from within, seeking the best talent and those who understand the inner-workings of the business, those who have seen what works and what doesn’t and have ideas for improvement in efficiency and quality. I ask current managers for recommendations, and I leave my door open to all – often including letting people know where I’m staying so that they can come to me with greater anonymity if need be.

In a bad economy with high unemployment, don’t squander an opportunity by laying low. Put in the extra time, make yourself and your good ideas known and heard. Consider getting additional education to bolster your current perceived value. Leverage your network to create business for your business – those who bring in business are rarely let go. Even if I have to lay off someone who seems valuable because my hands are tied, I look for where else I can use him. But if I have no idea who you are or why you’re useful, I have to let you go and not worry too much about it.

Are you out of work? How are you seeking employment? Have you saved your job recently? How did you stand out to do so?