Six Subtle Signs You're About to Lose Your Job
Steve Walker, a veteran executive for Safeway Co., figured his long tenure offered protection from a layoff. He figured wrong.
在超市运营商Safeway Co.长期担任高管的史蒂夫·沃克尔(Steve Walker)曾经以为，自己为公司工作了这么长的时间，应该可以免遭被裁员的命运，但他想错了。
He lost his job as vice president of corporate retail services last November amid cost cuts at the supermarket operator. Mr. Walker now realizes there were warnings. For instance, he says, his usually friendly boss turned terse during his final months.
Mr. Walker's surprise over his sudden dismissal is hardly unique. Many highly confident executives miss subtle signs that they're on the way out.
Jill Abramson got abruptly fired in May as executive editor of the New York Times -- an ouster that she didn't see coming, she said in a TV interview Wednesday. About 70% of unemployed executives now counselled by Shields Meneley Partners overlooked or ignored cumulative clues about the falling ax, estimates Gail Meneley, co-founder of the career-transition firm. The improved economy makes senior managers 'less sensitive to reading the signs of trouble,' explains Hugh Shields, its other founder.
时任《纽约时报》(New York Times)主编的吉尔·艾布拉姆森(Jill Abramson) 5月份突然遭解雇，她在上周三的一个电视采访节目中说，自己事先一点都没有预料到会发生这种事。提供职业转型咨询服务的Shields Meneley Partners的联合创始人盖尔·梅内利(Gail Meneley)估计，目前在该公司进行咨询的失业公司高管中，大约70%的人都忽视了或者根本没有理会预示自己将被解雇的种种迹象。该公司另外一名合伙人休·希尔兹(Hugh Shields)说，由于经济形势有所好转，高级经理人对于判断出现问题的迹象不再那么敏锐。
Increased time pressures further hamper executives' awareness about an imminent job loss. They frequently admit later that ''the signs were there. I was too busy trying to get things done,'' reports Dee Soder, managing partner of CEO Perspective Group, an executive-advisory concern.
时间压力的加重更加令高管无法意识到自己快要丢掉工作了。提供公司高管顾问服务的CEO Perspective Group的执行合伙人迪·索德(Dee Soder)说，他们事后常常承认说，明明是有迹象的，可是我忙着完成工作却没有注意到。
This year's takeover boom undoubtedly will spark a new wave of management suite shakeups. On Thursday, Microsoft Corp. announced plans for fewer management layers and the elimination of up to 18,000 jobs, a streamlining move following its recent acquisition of a Nokia business. Lack of clarity about a post-merger role 'could be a sign that you're on the list for outplacement,' warns Sanjay Sathe, CEO of RiseSmart Inc., another provider of outplacement services.
今年的并购潮无疑将引发新一轮企业管理层调整。微软(Microsoft Corp.)周四宣布了减少管理层级数及裁员至多18,000人的计划，以此作为其最近收购诺基亚(Nokia)业务之后的一项精简措施。新职介绍服务商RiseSmart Inc.的首席执行长萨特(Sanjay Sathe)警告说，如果你在并购后公司中扮演的角色缺乏明确性，那么这可能意味着你上了离职名单。
Prompt recognition of shaky job security might help executives win richer exit packages and mount better employment searches, experts say. Here are six warning signs, gathered from nearly 20 outplacement advisers, leadership coaches, executive recruiters and layoff victims.
Your boss refuses to discuss your long-term projects
Last year, the marketing vice president of a small maker of consumer goods wanted to hire a booth designer for a trade show that was eight months away. His employer showcases new items at the annual event.
The chief executive balked at approving the show budget for at least 30 days, however. The VP 'didn't connect the dots,' recalls Laurence J. Stybel, co-founder of Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire, a Boston leadership consultancy who advised the manufacturer. 'That should have been a warning sign.'
不过，首席执行长迟迟（至少30天）没有批准相关展览预算。Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire联合创始人Laurence J. Stybel在回忆时说，这位副总裁没有将点滴小事联系起来看，这原本会是一个值得警惕的迹象。Stybel Peabody Lincolnshire是一家总部位于波士顿的咨询公司，也是这家小生产商的顾问。
The man lost his job two months later. The lesson? Watch for significant shifts in your supervisor's decision-making process.
Rumors fly about a hunt for your successor
The leader of a technology consulting business secretly hired recruiters last year to find a replacement for his operational chief because he wasn't doing well. Hearing about the hunt, the man confronted the chief executive. 'Are you looking to get rid of me?' he asked.
The CEO replied, ''You're absolutely right, and you're fired,'' recollects Richard Chaifetz, an acquaintance of the CEO. He runs ComPsych Corp., a provider of employee-assistance programs.
该公司CEO的熟人Richard Chaifetz回忆道，这位CEO直接说：“非常对，你被解雇了。”Chaifetz经营ComPsych Corp.，该公司提供雇员协助项目。
The head of a Wall Street firm once pretended to seek a successor for an underperforming division president, hoping to scare him into improving results. The executive caught wind of the rumored search, and 'he came around real quick,' says Windle Priem, a retired Korn/Ferry International recruiter who refused the sham assignment.
一家华尔街公司的CEO曾想假装寻找某部门经理的继任者，希望藉此来吓唬一下这位表现不达标的经理改善业绩。Korn/Ferry International已经退休的猎头普里姆(Windle Priem)拒绝了这项假任务。普里姆称，这位经理听到了有关寻找继任者的风声，他很快就反应过来。
If you can't confirm such a search, you should at least 'make sure your network is active,' recommends Les Csorba , a partner in the CEO and board practice for recruiters Heidrick & Struggles International Inc.
Heidrick & Struggles International Inc的CEO及董事会猎头业务合伙人乔尔建议说，如果你无法证实公司正在物色新人选，你至少应该确保你的关系网是可用的。
Colleagues shun you
It's worrisome when associates shorten their eye contact or exclude you from key meetings, email and work trips. But this sort of warning sign can be less obvious.
An executive vice president briefed by Mr. Walker last summer wanted a follow-up session because 'things we were doing were very important to him,' the former Safeway official remembers.
Despite weeks of effort, 'I could never get that second meeting scheduled,' Mr. Walker continues. 'That was a subtle message.' He believes the executive VP knew about the looming layoff because he worked closely with Mr. Walker's boss. Safeway declined to comment.
You're assigned an executive coach to fix your flaws
A company-sponsored coach usually means the top brass cares about leadership skills development. Not always.
An executive should inquire whether a coach got hired 'to see if you can turn things around' - and in that case, request an improvement timeline, Dr. Soder proposes.
In early 2012, a major insurer brought in a coach for a senior compliance officer after he clashed with a peer. Six colleagues previously assigned coaches had left soon afterward. The insurer forced him to retire last year. 'The coaching was all perfunctory,' he adds.
You must justify your job
A senior executive at a producer of food ingredients switched roles 18 months ago. During a performance review six months later, his boss appeared clueless about his altered duties or accomplishments.
'I went home and started thinking, 'How can he not know what I am doing?'' the executive recalls. 'It was a subtle thing.'
In March, his boss decided that 'this role is not for you,' and asked him to retire this summer.
Your supervisor suddenly interferes with your employees
A communications executive at a major bank was surprised when his out-of-town boss inexplicably showed up three times in a few months and helped lead his staff meetings. 'She asked everyone's opinion but mine' during those meetings, he observes.
Soon after her third visit, she eliminated his job -- and offered a less powerful post. He quit.