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Survival in the Workplace Jungle

In the beginning of this year, Reuters posted survey results in the Internet job cuts in corporate America. The report stated that "U.S. corporations announced a record number of planned job cuts in January for a second straight month as companies suffered from the U.S. economic slowdown?Companies announced 142,208 layoffs in January, surpassing December's record number of 133,713 and bringing the total job cut announcements in the past two months to 275,921."

This hit home in the Treasure Valley area because the above figures included some Hewlett-Packard employees. However, since then, other local organizations have had to restructure to remain in business in these unprecedented competitive times. Employers and employees are somewhat standing on groundless ground.

As such, neither employers nor employees can approach the future of organizations as in the past. Business structures are being redefined by the day. Today?s customers demand to be taken care of wherever they are, in the manner they prefer and when they want it - hence a new competitive dimension.

Again we are reminded of life in the African jungle where the wise have said, "Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will die. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn?t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you?d better be running."

The employer has to give employees gentle "mother giraffe kicks." For a baby giraffe to survive and thrive in the jungle, it has to be able to stand and move with the herd. Carnivores enjoy capturing easy prey. Mother giraffe knows how crucial it is for her baby to be able to move to safety, no matter how hard the learning process.

With a mother standing over eight feet above the ground, a baby giraffe falls down from the womb, albeit sometimes on its back. Then, this tender calf rolls over to keep its legs under its body. In this setting, a baby shakes off birthing vestiges from his ears and eyes.

The mother, who knows the turbulence of life, introduces her baby to the course, Survival Skills 101. She looks at her baby and then stands over it. After a while, she gives her baby a kick with her long leg, therefore forcing it to stand up. If, for any reason, the baby fails to stand, Mother giraffe repeats the process.

No benefit, whether health or 401(K) can be more assuring to an employee than the ability to be employable. In addition to motivating to retain, a good "kick" can be training and re-training opportunities for employees with the future in mind. Training program can range from current job responsibilities to those anticipated in the future.

To minimize the turmoil caused by change on employees? health, loyalty, sense of identity and relationships, seminars that address change and how to deal with it can be useful. A good seminar leader can help employees focus on: what they can control instead of what they can?t control, the future instead of the present or the past and the opportunities that come with change instead of real or perceived obstacles. At least employees can learn proactive strategies to help them as individuals and their organization during and after organizational change.

The best tools for anyone to survive and thrive in our modern day jungle are to be flexible, assume nothing, forget territory or job description and go the extra mile (this is the pool where most of these who stay are fished from). Constantly update your resume with measurable projects, stay in school - even if it means paying for your own education and training and master skills of successful team players.

With or without uncertainty of workplace, strong family ties, involved in community affairs and faith in God do provide a cushion to fall back on when "Buffaloes in Our Lives" are charging. You are in-charge of your career and relationships. Balance them.

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