How To Keep Your Product Manager Job In A Recession

by drjim on January 2, 2009

Product Mangers Can Do Things That Will Make A Layoff Less Likely

Product Mangers Can Do Things That Will Make A Layoff Less Likely

If you are a product manger at one of the big 3 car makers or even if you work for Motorola, times cannot be good for you right now. The rest of us are also looking over our shoulders trying to figure out if our jobs might be on the chopping block next.

Every Product Manger would like to think that he/she is so valuable to the company that there is NO WAY that their name would ever get put on the RIF list. However, I speak from experience when I say – it happens! So pehaps the big question is really, is there anything that you can do to get yourself spared the axe? Well, it turns out that the answer is maybe…

Look, if the company is shutting down, then you are out of a job no matter what. However, if they are going to keep going, then you have a chance to hold on to your job. Now, there are no guarantees, but you can improve your odds by doing the following things:

  • Look Like You Are A Survivor: Interestingly enough, you want to do this because it’s much easier to can someone who looks like they have already been canned. This means that you’ve got to lighten up – don’t drag around all moody like. Research has shown that if you are fun to be around, people will want to be around you especially in bad times. Good natured colleagues are chosen over ones in a bad mood and that’s always a good thing.
  • Become A Beacon Of Hope: People often survive when they do things that others don’t do. You need to realize that upper management is feeling the downturn just as much as anyone else, and maybe even more if a large part of their salary is based on their bonus. If you become upbeat and don’t fight the changes that come your way, then you will be seen as a leader and as an advocate that upper management can rely on. Once again, this is a very good thing.
  • Practice Good Citizenship: In good times, we hate to go to those big meetings, all hands meetings, etc. Who needs the pep rally, I’ve got real work to do. However, when times are tough, you need to start attending all of these meetings. Become visible – make sure that everyone knows that you are going, that you are there, and that you are a supporter of the message that is being delivered.

You don’t have control over the future of you company nor do you really have control over your career’s future – you’re pretty much just along for the ride. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t try to tip the odds in your favor.

Sometimes just buying yourself just a bit more time can make all the difference in the world. Hanging on until the bad times are just about over will make finding that next product manager gig that much easier!

Have you ever been let go from a product manger job during a down cycle? Had you tried to do anything to hold on to your job? Did it seem to help for awhile? What should you have done differently? Leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking.

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