As children, we are taught that we won't fail as long as we do our best. Yet once we enter the job market, the validity of this notion can feel questionable to anyone who gives his or her "all" to an employer, only to lose a job because a bad economy forces a company to downsize.
In the economic difficulties of the recent past, more and more people have experienced this harsh reality. And even though the job market is getting better—last month's unemployment rate of 7.6% was down from 8.2% a year earlier—11.8 million people are still jobless, and at least 4 million have been out of work for more than two years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Knowing how to be a valuable employee can help insulate you from the proverbial chopping block. As the CEO of the $3 billion company Camping World, Marcus Lemonis employs 6,000 people. He offers a few tips that might help you maintain your position and even climb the company ladder.
Three ways to keep a job and advance in it
Lemonis, who also hosts CNBC Prime's new series "The Profit," said the toughest time he faced in his 12 years as a CEO was in 2008 and 2009, when he laid off 1,500 people because of the financial crisis and recession.
"Firing people ... is the hardest responsibility of any business owner in America," he said.
If in order to survive a company must lay people off, this advice can help ensure it won't be you:
1. Performance is everything; it's essential that the work an employee does produces results.
2. Be a good team player; make sure to get along with co-workers.
3. Take a leadership role whenever you have the opportunity—and make sure everyone knows you did.
Three ways to keep a business going
Besides running a company with more than 100 stores nationwide, Lemonis has bought into a range of struggling small businesses. The self-described "deal junkie" not only invests but rolls up his sleeves and takes charge.
Making more than 100 such deals over the past 12 years, he knows what it takes for a business to stay on its feet:
1. Realize that people, products and processes are vital: Treat employees well and they'll want to work; understand the product being sold and make sure it's relevant; have a smooth process to execute those two things.
2. Owner must know their business' financials inside and outside to properly maintain the bottom line.
3. Never lose sight of, and always respect, the real boss—the customer.
Three ways to make it as a manager
Whether Lemonis takes over an existing business or starts a new one, he has a few requirements when hiring a management team. If you're a manager or aspire to be one, he has this counsel:
1. Know and share the boss' goals, and always respect the core values of the company and its mission.
2. Be conservative with the business' money but take risks with ideas.
3. Demonstrate flexibility and a willingness to be open to change.