A couple of weeks ago, Pete, an ex-colleague of mine was told he was being made redundant. I predicted this four months ago, but for Pete it came as a bolt out of the blue. He had been blind to all the little hints and nuances that suggested redundancy was calling his name. Pete had laughed when I had suggested the redundancy warning signs, saying that he’d worked for the company for 15 years and the big boss would always look out for him.
So how had I seen this coming when I didn’t even work in his organization? As an objective outsider, I could spot the warning signs. All the little things Pete had been telling me, combined with his increasing unhappiness in his job, were big flashing warning lights, visible to me, but it was as if he had been wearing dark glasses and had failed to spot them. Here are some of the warning signs that your job might be in jeopardy:
The company had merged with another organization in the previous year.
When companies merge or make acquisitions, it is extremely likely there will be staff lay-offs, either due to duplication of job roles or because the purchaser wants to make cost savings. Sometimes a new managing director will make redundancies as he or she takes the company in a new strategic direction.
2. Poor Company Results
The business had recently lost a major customer. This was nothing to do with Pete but the impact it had on the organization rippled through it.
3. Cost Cutting Measures
There had been some major cost cutting ranging from the Christmas party being scrapped to the possibility of pension scheme reductions.
4. Consultants Brought In
A team of three people in suits had been wandering around the offices asking lots of questions. They admitted they were consultants but no one really knew what they were doing and their very presence caused unrest.
5. Work Was Slow
In previous years, Pete was inundated with work. He never had time to make personal calls or send private emails during the day, his hours were long and he was really engaged with his work. A few months ago, this changed. Pete seemed to be making work for himself when there wasn’t really anything to do. He’d send me links to YouTube and funny jokes at 11am on a Tuesday and seemed to be leaving work earlier and earlier. When I questioned this, he shrugged his shoulders and told me he was bored.
6. Soured Relations with the Boss
Pete’s relationship with Janet, his direct boss, had always been difficult but recently it became untenable. He felt as if Janet was undermining his every move. He was left out of important meetings; when he put forward his views they were ignored or worse, laughed at. His latest job review was poor, despite having fifteen years of excellent performance ratings.
Despite the poor relations with Janet, during the last few weeks, Janet had taken an inordinate amount of interest in Pete’s work. She asked for daily status updates on ongoing projects and a fortnight ago, asked Pete to set out all his job responsibilities and key contacts in an excel spreadsheet.
8. Boss is Too Busy
When Pete asked Janet for a meeting to understand why he was being micromanaged, he was told she was too busy. He felt he was being fobbed off and asked his co-workers what they thought was going on.
He then realized he was being cold-shouldered by them too. Pete wasn’t invited to join them for their usual Friday-after-work drinks.
10. You’re Not a Revenue Generator
When Pete was called into a Friday afternoon meeting with Janet and Sally, the HR director, he was told that it was with much regret that he was being considered for redundancy, but he wasn’t a revenue generator and the company had no choice but to make his position redundant.
When Pete came to me for Coaching, he was in shock. He felt betrayed by his long-term employer and angry that he had been picked on. He took the EQi-2 emotional intelligence evaluation tool and we discovered that his emotional intelligence score was quite low. This gave us plenty of things to consider and in my next blog post, I’ll share with you some of the thoughts, values and skills that Pete is being coached around, in preparation for his next career move, post redundancy.