But there are warning signs that may tip off employees that their position may be on the chopping block.
Writing for Harvard Business Review, executive coach and speaker Susan Peppercorn, author of Ditch Your Inner Critic at Work: Evidence-Based Strategies to Thrive in Your Career, raises four important red flags that your job might be at risk:
- A change in management
- "You're cut out of the loop"
- No sponsor advocates on your behalf
- Reassignment of work
Let's dig a little deeper to explore each of those warning signs that may help you, the employee, to prepare ahead for the worse.
1. A change in management.
Peppercorn mentions that a management shakeup can be a harbinger that things are about to take a turn. It may be a controlling new boss who favors bringing in people with whom he's familiar, perhaps from a previous company. "Changes in leadership can precipitate changes in job status for individuals or entire teams," notes Peppercorn.
2. You're cut out of the loop.
Are you no longer being invited to meetings or copied on important emails? Can't get a straight answer from people? Do you find yourself "iced out of the informal communication loop?" Take these red flags as signs that you may have fallen out of favor with your manager, especially a new boss. Don't assume that how things have always worked before will work the same way under new management. You may be in for an unpleasant surprise.
3. No sponsor advocates for you.
Peppercorn stresses the importance of having sponsors on your side. Losing those who have advocated on your behalf in the past can precipitate a change in your job status. Ask yourself, "Who is willing to advocate for me?" and have more than one influential leader "willing to expend political capital on your behalf."
4. Reassignment of work.
Do fewer projects or opportunities come your way these days, even when you request them? Were you once the go-to person, but now you find that your work is being reassigned to other colleagues? That's a good indicator of an upcoming layoff, says Peppercorn. Chances are, if you raise the issue to management, you'll be met with stonewalling and lots of excuses.
By being aware of these signs as they occur, you can take action to prepare ahead in case change needs to take place sooner rather than later.