Will you be fired soon?

Will you be fired soon? (Как узнать грозит ли Вам увольнение?) была опубликована в Kyiv Post 8 октября 2008 г.

Will you be fired soon?

One of the biggest anxieties many employees have is the fear of being fired. The fear may either be a psychological illusion, or a signal of real danger. For those lucky enough not to have been through staff cuts, downsizing, restructuring, or whatever euphemism the boss decides to use, here is a crash course.

Let’s deal with the psychological aspects first. The fear of being fired is directly connected to our basic survival reflex: no money – no food. So worrying about job security is absolutely healthy. Now and then we all experience butterflies in the stomach when the workload is overwhelming, the deadlines are past due or the project is falling apart. Fine, believe me, it is absolutely fine. There is no danger in feeling that way unless you are totally lazy and constantly abuse your job or your employer’s confidence.

Some peoples’ fears of being dismissed approach paranoia. It brings on constant nervousness. It robs them of their positive tone, work output and job satisfaction. I remember a very bright information technology professional who was afraid to make a single mistake or take any increased responsibility. He became nearly invisible to management and colleagues. He felt safer not attracting any attention to himself or his work. Later it was quite painful for him to realize that his contribution to the company’s business was not appreciated.

Now let’s move from imaginary fears to reality: what if the danger of being fired is real? If you are not on probation and have not violated employment laws or company policies, the sacking will happen gradually. The danger signs may include:

  • placing others in charge of duties/projects that would normally be yours.
  • excluding you from meetings you used to be in;
  • withholding information you would normally receive;
  • your boss sets unrealistic goals or performance expectations for you;
  • a cooling attitude from management, for instance, delayed or no response to your e-mails, no office visits, and so on.

One way to check whether your job is secure is to take a test designed by famous German social psychologist Kurt Lewin. Develop a list of the key aspects of your professional life. The list should look something like this:

  • Service record (good/bad)
  • Client relations (good/bad)
  • Relationships with colleagues (respectful/disrespectful)
  • Energy level (high/low)
  • Creative skills (high/low)
  • Leadership skills (high/low)
  • Work attitude (diligent/routine)

Now honestly evaluate your performance by placing a plus, minus or zero next to the category. Now add it up.

If you’ve got more pluses than minuses, then you’re most likely facing a favorable scenario and may even get a promotion.

If you have more zeros, then your outlook is neutral you’re probably ok.

If you’ve a lot of minuses, then you have reason to worry.

To avoid that dreadful negative scenario, here are just a few simple but effective tips:

  • Your self-development should be continuous.
  • Deepen your professional efficiency every day.
  • Exercise a proactive attitude and initiative.
  • Keep abreast of the news and trends in your area of expertise.
  • Broaden your horizons in general knowledge.
  • Don’t be afraid of making a mistake; be afraid of repeating it over and over again.

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