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Signs of Sinkage!

IT had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things- Elinor Smith

How well do you trust your employer? How sound is the company you are working for? What is the risk that you will be laid off, or that the company you are working for will fold in the near future? These are questions that only a soothsayer can answer.

The companies of tomorrow should be Lean, Mean and Flat:

Lean - no fat, efficient and productive.

Mean - tough enough to fend off competition and dominate the market.

Flat - fewer levels of management

Companies that are not all of these will sink, sooner if not later. And you owe it to yourself to be warned beforehand if this is going to happen to the company you are working for, because you need your job as much as anything else. If the ship is sinking, you need to get a lifeboat or jump overboard. Mercenary as it may sound, you need to look out for another job. As your employer is not likely to call you and warn you of things to come, what you need to do is the minute you sense something, start looking for the tell tale signs---signs which will confirm that you're the company you work for is sinking. Here are a few for starters.

How is the value of the stock doing? Is your company firing employees, and closing offices?(These are clear signs of a company's state of financial health or the lack of it.) Are they developing new products? (If not, they have obviously closed the door on their own growth, development and eventual survival.)

*Are the senior people leaving? The higher ups always get to know of it all first, and there is a good chance the ship is sinking if you see too many of them leaving.

* Have there been management shake-ups?

* When you ask managers and supervisors `what's going on?' Do they answer `how should I know?' This is NOT a good sign. It often indicates that they too are uncertain and worried.

* Is training being cut back? This is a sure sign of a company in recession.

* Are there negative vibes in the place, a lot of speculation about what is going to happen, some sort of an uncertainty?

* Is compensation commensurate with your performance? If not, it may be that they do not have enough funds to pay well, and that is not a good sign.

* What is being said in the market. Do you frequently find them denying allegations of pending closure?

* Is the management going on a sudden spending spree after turning a small profit? Are they servicing their debts well?

* Are the vendors calling and asking, "where's my money?" Is the budget being slashed abruptly? Has the funding for business travel and continuing education disappeared?

* Are veteran employees forced to take early retirement while newer hires are laid off?

It's not easy to be aware of the fact that your company is going down the tubes.

In fact, the bigger the company, the harder it is to see the signs. So do pay attention to what financial experts are saying.

Study industry trends. Read company press releases. Follow the stock price and watch for sudden declines. Also search for news about your company written by outsiders. Remember, the press can dig up dirt on a company long before it is made public.

If you are working for a publicly traded company, they are required by law to inform shareholders of their financial health. So you can easily learn a few things by getting a copy of the latest financial statement and annual report. After having gone through the checklist, what's your score? If you think the company is going to sink - save yourself.

Again, mercenary as it may sound, remember that only the captain of a ship need go down with it, that too if he thinks it necessary.

As for the rest of the crew, it is every man for himself. After all survival is your primary obligation to yourself and to your dependents.

MALLIKA JAYASHEELA

faqs@cnkonline.com

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