Fall time for companies, employees to take stock
Most people think of autumn as “back to school” time. But in the world of work, think of fall as a potentially pivotal time for your job and career.
Now is the time when many employers start planning two key events: year-end performance appraisals and workforce adjustments. This might mean promoting or hiring additional employees in the new year, but it also can mean letting people go because of restructuring or by terminating employees who are not meeting standards. If the financials are not looking good, a downsizing will likely be in the works.
If you think you could potentially be one of the names on the downsizing list, don't wait until your performance appraisal meeting or for announcements of cost-cutting measures to take stock of your work performance and the state of your career. Take steps today to get your name off that list.
In working with employers who are “making a list,” I've seen patterns emerge for employees commonly placed on that list:
Misfit from the start
These are situations where the employer says, “We never should have hired so-and-so.” Maybe the employee came from a large corporation and couldn't adapt to a non-profit, entrepreneurial, or start-up culture. Personality clashes are another example of a poor fit.
In this case, the employer realizes an employee had been a solid performer for many years, but recently has been slacking off, is not keeping up with the times, coasting, or taking the easy way out.
They just don't get it
Sometimes the employer is plain frustrated by non-compliance or inability to perform. Their description sounds like this: “I've tried to explain our expectations to him over and over, but he just doesn't get it. He says all the right things to me when we talk, but the next day, he's back to his old ways. I don't have time or energy to deal with it anymore.”
How the person does the job
Many times a person does the mechanics of the job quite well, but “how” the employee gets it done annoys others. Behaviors such as being demanding, condescending, inconsiderate, bossy, defensive, blaming, or negative cause many employees to be added to termination lists.
Should any of the above scenarios sound even remotely like you, act now to rescue yourself. Make a list of the areas where you need to demonstrate improved behavior. Then, meet with your boss and have a heartfelt conversation that goes something like these scenarios:
“Boss, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection lately and have come to realize that my recent behavior has been below standard in some areas. I handled that meeting with Customer X very poorly and have begun to make these changes….”
“Boss, I see now how my behavior toward the folks in Customer Service could be seen as condescending. Here's how I'm going to change my behavior, starting right now….”
“Boss, it's been a while since I've come up with a fresh idea for our marketing efforts, and I'm excited to tell you about some concepts for social media that will get us that increased market share we've been striving for.”
Conversations like these will set your boss back on his heels and probably buy you some time. Know that the boss will be scrutinizing your behavior to ensure you follow through.
No one relishes having to terminate an employee. If you can identify behaviors that need to change, let decision-makers know you intend to change, and make those changes now in a noticeable, consistent, and enduring way. You may well get your name off the termination list.