There are two types of employees. One has a good idea of what they do, who they are, and what position they play in the company. They are savvy. They know the score. They are under no delusions, and will no doubt leave for another job long before they are ever considered as cannon-fodder.
And then there’s the other kind. The guy who could get Gandhi to hate him. The woman who spends most of her day chatting on the phone to friends or doing online shopping. Or the nice chap in sales who is completely oblivious that the recent merger means his job is now obsolete. They all have Ostrich Syndrome. They couldn’t see a pink slip coming if it was 8ft tall and glowing in the dark, screaming “you’re fired!”
You want to avoid being in that second category at all costs. So I’ve compiled a handy list. If you can answer yes to THREE or more of these questions, you may want to think about sprucing up your resume and dry-cleaning your best interview attire.
1. Are you no longer in the loop about, well, anything?
This is a huge telltale sign. Suddenly you’re finding out about company news from the cleaning lady or the new girl in accounting. If you were formally in the know about all things business related, but now suffer from “the company’s doing what??!” disease, the writing is probably on the wall.
2. Did you recently screw up big-time?
We’re not talking a minor faux pas here. Did you lose money on an account that was previously bulletproof? Oh dear. Were you caught having sex on the boss’s desk with the boss’s spouse? That’s probably not a career-enhancing move. Unless you’re a real dope, you know if you have screwed up. And if you know, HR knows. It may not be the final nail in your coffin, but it’s a nail in the coffin nonetheless.
3. Are people avoiding you at all costs?
Eye contact is difficult to make with someone if you know his or her head’s on the chopping block. Small talk is just as tough. It’s best just to avoid that person altogether. So if people are no longer doing that fun “stop ‘n’ chat” in the hall, or the coffee room empties when you arrive, then guess what…you may be a marked man or woman.
4. Did your last performance review read like a train wreck?
Most of the time, a performance review is a whole bunch of niceties. The boss really doesn’t want to say anything TOO good, because everyone has room for improvement. But generally, they praise within reason and avoid anything too negative. So if your review paints you as a stupid version of Homer Simpson with less talent than a Backstreet Boy, well, that tap on the shoulder is coming.
5. Has your company recently been sold or merged?
This is rarely good news for about 90% of the staff. Sure, management is fine. After all, they negotiated the deal. But whether you were sold or merged, the outcome is the same…changes will be made across the board. A merger means duplication of many jobs. Duplication = redundancy. Being sold means new management, and they always have new plans for the company. New plans that includes cutbacks and layoff. Basically, watch your back if there’s a new name on the front door.
6. Are you being given impossible jobs with no chance of success?
This one is underhanded, which is why it’s so popular. The company may need a big reason to give you the boot, especially if you’ve done everything right and are the life and soul of your department. Enter the impossible task. “Ahh Wilkins, we need you to expand our new line of warm, alcohol-free beers to construction workers.” “Johnson, how’s that line of umbrellas doing in the new L.A. store?” You get the picture. If you’ve been given a thankless task, at least be thankful for the blatant tip-off that you’re about to be let go.
7. Do you now have less responsibility than the intern?
Ouch. Being stripped of your responsibilities is a sure-fire sign that there’s something unpleasant on the horizon. After all, you don’t fire someone who’s got a ton of important work to do, with loads of people underneath him/her. So, over time the poor sucker in management’s sights will be given a new job title, less work, less people (or no people) and will eventually have a hard time finding anything of any real value to do all day. Not long after this, that same employee will be out on the street. In fact, if you’re at work and have enough time to read this article, you may very well be in the firing line.
8. Has your office, cubicle or working space recently been down-sized?
Remember poor old Milton in Office Space being moved from one small space to another, until he was eventually sat in the dark, in the basement, dealing with pest problems. Well, this is not so far from the truth. When employees are in the firing line, it’s a lot easier to move them around and downsize their environment without worrying about their morale. If you are reading this in your new 6ft by 6ft cubicle with no lights on a 1999 PC with a 200MB hard drive, you’re not exactly a valued employee any more.
Click Read More for More Signs.