SIMS: Do you get
the feeling things may not be going so well at your present job? Meetings you
aren't invited to, projects you thought you'd be a
part of? Well, there are plenty of warning signs that you may be
about to be fired. Career consultant and author Mark Swartz joins us this
morning to help us recognize them and to figure out what to do
SWARTZ: Good morning,
SIMS: I mentioned a couple examples of things that might be going on
that should maybe send up a red flag for people: meetings that you think you
should be invited to and you're not; projects that you think you should be a
part of and you're not. What are some of the
other signs that people should
not ignore, that they should recognize are telling them
SWARTZ: Well, there are a
couple of common signs. For example, let's say you
suddenly start getting memos which outline poor performance or they're starting
to chronicle some of the things that you've said in meetings when that didn't
happen before. Sometimes
that means a company is laying a paper trail that
they can depend on later if they have to.
SIMS: In that instance should you create a paper trail of yourself
and respond to those as they show up.
SWARTZ: That's actually
not a bad idea at all because that way you have your defense as well just in
case you have to use it at some point in the future.
SIMS: Okay, what else might tell people that they're on the way
SWARTZ: Well, for
example, let's say that you've had a company that's just been merged or you have
a brand new president who's come in. That often means there's going to be change
in the air. And no matter how secure you feel you are it's always good to take
SIMS: Right, okay. And what about money? Do you take a cue
from the kinds of raises you're getting or not getting?
SWARTZ: Depending on the
economy, sure. Let's say, for example, you've had your salary
frozen for the last three or four years and you start talking to colleagues in the lunch room and you find out that
they've been getting eight-percent raises each year. That could be an indication
that you've been set out to -- well, not to pasture per se but you might want to
think about your future.
SIMS: Right. And bosses who used to be pals with you or they'd go for
lunch with you once in a while or something, should you notice a change in
behaviour towards you in the office?
SWARTZ: Sure. If you're
suddenly getting the silent treatment, if you're not being
invited to important meetings anymore or if you're not getting the ear of
the senior executives that you used to have that can be a sign that you're being frozen
SIMS: I want to go over all of them because of course people can get
paranoid about this sort of thing.
SWARTZ: Oh, absolutely.
But a little paranoia may not be a bad thing.
SIMS: I'm assuming you should wait and see if you're noticing a few
different ones of these pop up. But if you are, I think you've said elsewhere
that the inclination is to stay in the office and kind of hide and hunker down
and hope it's not true.
SWARTZ: Yeah, the
hibernation syndrome. It's very easy if you start to see some of these signs to
just kind of go into your cubicle and hopefully they won't notice
you so they can't find you. But
always the best way to respond.
SIMS: How should you respond?
SWARTZ: A couple of ways.
And it really depends on, for example, the relationship
you have with your boss. Some people find that it's easier just to go and chat
with them and say, "Look, I'm noticing certain signs. Can you tell me what's
really happening here?"
that's not an easy thing to do then something else you can do to protect
yourself is really to start updating your resume. The reason I say that is for
both internal and external purposes. Once you start writing down all the
wonderful things you've done for the
company it's easier to market yourself
to your boss, to other people in the company, let them know what you're doing.
And if things don't work out ultimately then at least you've done the pre- work
so that you're prepared to meet the next stages.
SIMS: I see. So you're not necessarily preparing your resume in order
to head out the door, it can actually help you in your present
SIMS: Just by, what, focusing your mind on what your arguments
SWARTZ: If focuses your
mind and it allows you to talk intelligently to your boss and other people in
the company in terms of the contribution that you're already making, the value
added. And that internal marketing can sometimes mean the difference between
your being invisible and your being remembered when it comes time to "Hey, we
should keep these folks."
SIMS: Now, you mentioned that some people can go into their boss and
talk about these things. Other people don't find that so easy. And there may be
a case where their immediate boss is part of the problem -- there may be a
personality clash or whatever. At what point can you go above your boss to try
to make your case and it not be viewed as another point against
SWARTZ: Sure, that's a
very sensitive issue in terms of the kind of relationship you have with your
boss or with more senior people in the organization. Sometimes it's easier to
network laterally. Thatis, start
meeting with people who are able to be in a position to talk with you, keep you in
the loop, so to speak, without being perceived as going behind your boss's
back – because that can always be used against you in the end as
SIMS: Right. You can go and talk about these things but should
be doing things as well to try to become a more valuable player?
other words, should you start volunteering for more things
trying to on your own get yourself more involved in what's going on
SWARTZ: Very much
SIMS: Does that work?
SWARTZ: Yes, it can work.
And, again, if this is sort of the thing where if you're on
the cusp and people haven't quite noticed you before this is a
good time to get out there and let people know just how valuable you
are to the organization -- doing volunteer work
organization, doing cross-divisional kinds of projects so that other people
in different parts of the organization get to see who you are. That
SIMS: Right. Remember to market yourself.
SWARTZ: Marketing is
key, as is knowing
SIMS: Okay, thanks for all this, Mark.
SWARTZ: You're very