Estimated reading time: 7 mins
All employees feel concerned about job security every now and then – that is all a natural worry when working for someone. However, you might be getting a serious gut feeling of something not right, like talks of financial troubles, or you being skipped from important meetings. These can be signs for you to get worried about losing your job. In this blog post, we will be looking at all the things that should make you worry about your current job and all that you can do to improve your situation.
You can get a few early signals that should tell you when to hit the panic button – there will be a negative change in your boss’s behavior and your colleagues might give you signs. This change of attitude can be specifically around you or more generally with everyone and both of them should be a concern for you. You need to be alert at your workplace to keep evaluating your job security there and be prepared for any bad news. In my personal experience, I have seen companies act very discreetly, not giving major signs that an individual’s job is at risk. Since it is a slow process, most of the victims just do not notice the signs and keep living day by day, hoping for the best. Knowing the true state of affairs will put you in a better position to take actions to have more control of your future.
Let us now look at the main signs that might signal a threat to your job and your future at a workplace:
You Are Getting Fewer Responsibilities. A BIG sign that your job is at risk will be if your management starts giving you fewer projects and responsibilities. There is a general flow of work at any workplace and then there is the I-am-going-to-fire-you flow of work given to someone about to be fired in the coming days. Getting demoted or shifted to a less important department are all signs that you might be handed the pink slip.
You Are Left Out of Important Meetings. It is a common practice of management to have someone getting axed be left out of important meetings. There are two parts to it – first is that they find the individual to be of little advantage to them and second is that they would rather keep any valuable information stay proprietary with someone they’re letting go.
Company Mergers, Acquisitions or New Management Coming Through. I myself have been part of companies going through a complete management overhaul and mergers and if there is one thing that I can say about such moves, it is that they are the most uncertain ones for all stakeholders. It is very common for new managers to clean house or for companies finding a surplus of employees after mergers who are then given golden handshakes.
There’s A Sudden Change in Your Relationship with Your Boss. A sudden shift in the relationship with your line manager can be a sign of things to come. This can be due to a fight you had but more seriously because of some decision s/he might have taken behind your back. You might find yourself getting ignored and avoided by your boss as most of us try and avoid any confrontations in such situations.
Series of Poor Feedback. Sometimes, your boss will give you signals that are more direct by pointing out all your errors and sending out negative reviews to you. When your boss continuously asks you to demonstrate more ‘ownership’ then you know there is a serious problem to your continuity at the workplace. The management tries to put the blame of your firing to your performance and sending out reviews and negative feedback to you is their way of preparing you for the worst. I would also like to highlight here that you should also not be thrilled to see no feedback from your management on poor performances. This can signal that your boss doesn’t really care about what you do or don’t do anymore, since you are expected to leave soon.
Financial Troubles Plaguing the Company. One of the main causes of job insecurity is unprofitability. Therefore, if you are hearing from your management at board meetings that the company is going through financial hardships then you really need to start packing your bags. The thing with financial struggles in companies is that it doesn’t care for how good or bad a resource you are – when the ax comes, it comes for everyone. In fact, I have seen more qualified people on good paychecks get fired first when the company is in financial hot water because letting the go seems to save the company big money.
You are Totally Out of the loop. You will know that something isn’t right when you find yourself totally out of all and any projects that the coworkers are talking about. You might find yourself not market in email lists that included the work that you’re usually supposed to do. Added to this, if your management and coworkers are also avoiding you then that can be a sign that they all know of the inevitable and are trying to stay away from interacting too much with you.
Your Boss Asks You to Hand Off Assignments. If your boss calls you to his/her office and asks you to hand over your project files and other items to other colleagues or brief other colleagues thoroughly, there is a likelihood that they are about to let you go. Remember that the management will like to keep it as unnoticed as possible.
The Company Has Hired Your Replacement. Another big sign is when a company hires someone with the exact same skillset as yours in your very own department. Remember that companies are never in a habit of wasting money on resources, so if you find a new resources coming to office who seems your replica in responsibilities and experience, there is a chance of you getting fired or at least facing massive competition.
Okay, so now that I’ve scared you enough, let us look at all the things you can do to prepare yourself. As a general rule, you should keep your cool and calmly start looking for your exit strategy. Don’t start panicking about the prospects of getting fired and look forward to applying at other places, so you are able to make your move before your existing company says goodbye to you. Also, try to be a good resource – don’t give them a reason to fire you. It actually is very possible that they are just annoyed at your current unprofessional behavior and want you to mend your ways.
Keep your Successes Visible. It is possible that your manager isn’t really aware of all of your achievements, especially if you’re working in a matrix organization. You should always be in apposition to defend yourself. Sometimes your line managers feel threatened by your potential, so my advice would be to bypass him/her in being more visible to the people who are actually making the decisions.
Give It All You’ve Got. If you have a feeling that you can still salvage your job then you should really give your 110% to your job. Be punctual and do not shy away from work or added responsibilities. Try and hang around in the office more, starting conversations with your managers and bosses more often. This might also allow them to be more open and honest with you.
Be Confident and Professional. You need to keep your emotions out of this. My advice to all you readers out there is to never burn your bridges – you never know when your paths will be crossing again. Stay confident and motivated and try to give your existing boss reasons to reconsider his/her decision. If nothing, this confidence and professionalism will also help you with your upcoming job interviews. Keep things professional and do not try to share your feelings with your coworkers. They might even tell on you so watch out for this one.
Do Job Searches Quietly. This should also be the perfect time for you to start a discreet job search. Just try and take stock of your real passions and also keep your current experience and learning from the workplace into consideration. Try and go for jobs that allow you to advance your career while at the same time not being too afraid to change your career.
So there you have it – my observations on when you should start panicking at your existing workplace and all the things you should do instead of panicking. I also encourage you to check this great wikiHow page on how to lose the fear of being fired. Of course, there are many other blogs on our website that you would find useful, like 5 Things Your Boss is not Telling You (But Really Should). Do let me know if you have been in a similar situation and all that you did to improve yourself and your future.