There are two ways you can treat your suspicions that the end is nigh. You can ignore the signs and go willy-nilly about your business, then deal with the consequences when the ax falls. On the other hand, you can brace for impact, make an effort to save your hide or look for the safest place to land next.
If you’re in the first category, you don’t care what’s about to happen. Chill out. For the rest of us, it’s wise to be methodical in our analysis.
After over ten years of sitting on the other side of the desk, I can tell you what signs to watch for and why they may or may not be concerning. I will also try to speckle in some examples of what you may do to save yourself from demise.
Put on your seatbelt. This could get bumpy.
In and of themselves, tough conversations are an everyday part of leadership. That said, if this is not the first time you’re having a tough talk with your supervisor about the same thing, you can be certain they have concerns.
Even in this case, don’t panic. Talk is where things start. Your action is where they end.
Just because you’re up against the rope doesn’t mean the fight is over. If it’s the second time you’re talking about something, be grateful for the second chance.
Don’t hope for luck to grace your life a third time.
Development is generally a good thing. There is the kind of extracurricular development that team members receive who are ready for new opportunities. Then, there is the kind that is something you should already know.
If they are developing you in skills they’ve already taught you, then you need to ask if there is a reason for concern. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Leave no stone unturned about what your supervisor expects of you. Understand with perfect clarity how long you have to get better at said skill. Don’t panic yet, even if there’s documentation.
I’ve been on this hot seat myself. If you can course-correct, you’ll be fine. If it’s not possible to do what they expect, start considering your options.
This may go hand in hand with the two previous signs. It still does not mean your days are numbered, but it may.
Documentation is a technicality. In most large companies, not documenting conversations can land leadership in hot water. They may receive documentation themselves if they fail to take this step.
As such, treat the documentation with earnest, but don’t panic. You can still fight your way out of this.
Depending on the severity of the situation, you may have more levels before the ax falls. If they are documenting you for something serious, where your actions have put the company at risk, then the ice below you is thin.
Move swiftly to solid ground. Again, make sure you are clear on next steps and timelines.
The New Hire
There’s a “new guy.” Someone is training him in your job and it’s not because of seasonal changes in the business or general business growth.
If you’ve been party to the above steps, you should have concerns at this point.
In one job I had in my twenties, the boss had me train my replacement. I was good at my job, but they didn’t like me personally. That was a painful termination, but here’s the good news. I survived. So will you.
This is a good time to polish up your resume, clean up your casual social media profiles like Facebook and Instagram (remove drunken or otherwise salacious pics), polish your professional profiles like LinkedIn and Twitter, and put out feelers for opportunities.
It’s easier to find work when you have work. Don’t wait until they can you to make moves.
Don’t waste too much time feeling bad about losing your job. You’re not the first person to fall through the ice. It’s normal for you to feel the sting.
In time you need to consider what you could have done differently but for now, do the next right thing. Get your sleep, don’t skip your health regimen, and keep talking about your feelings with people you trust.
You’ve gotta have your head screwed on right for your next opportunity. They definitely don’t want to see you cry in the interview.