If your gut is screaming that something is off in the energy at work, then it is. Your gut never lies.
You could wait and see what happens, but if it’s stressing you out to wonder what the heck is going on and whether you’ll have a job next week, I suggest that you have a frank conversation with your boss. They key to doing that effectively is to collect yourself before you begin the conversation. Don’t get emotional or angry, as hard as it might be to keep your cool.
Chances are excellent that even if they are planning to let you go, your boss doesn’t hate you personally. It’s a business decision, and even though that sounds cold, I hope it helps you a little bit. I know that the times I’ve been fired or ‘invited to leave’ overtly or sneakily (three times in all in my career so far) I always felt angry that people were being weaselly with me, but people get scared very easily.
Once I realized that these people weren’t out to get me, they were just normal fearful people who felt they had to cave in to their boss’s demands, it got easier to take the tough blows.
If they do let you go, your preparation and your broaching the topic give you a better platform from which to negotiate your exit arrangements. If they call you into HR one day and give you your walking papers, you’re not going to be a great frame of mind to start negotiating severance and other benefits. If you bring up the topic and your manager panics, and you can see on her face that you nailed it and that indeed they have been talking about sending you on your way, you’ve got the upper hand. Here’s a script to illustrate:
YOU: Peggy, do you have a second?
PEGGY, YOUR BOSS: Sure, what’s up?
YOU: I wanted to set up a time to meet with you and talk about my plan, what I’m working on and so forth.
PEGGY: Anything in particular?
YOU: Well, I want to go top-to-bottom with you, start with my mission here and dig into my projects, a kind of 360 view.
PEGGY: Oh – okay. How about Tuesday at 10:00?
YOU: That’s perfect.
Now you’ve given Peggy time to prepare. She’s not an idiot (I hope). She knows you have questions she’s not going to be able to avoid.
On Tuesday morning:
PEGGY: Thanks for coming in.
YOU: Sure. I wanted to talk with you about my role and my goals.
YOU: For starters, I want to get your take on me and this job. Are you pleased with what I’m doing? I want to make sure you’re supportive of me in this job and my agenda in it.
PEGGY: Er – why do you ask?
YOU: Well I’ve been concerned lately, and picking up a lot of signals that you and the other leaders may not be overjoyed with my performance or perhaps more accurately with the fit between me and the job.
PEGGY: Um…well there have been some conversations.
EXACTLY. You knew it, and now you got your confirmation. Your mojo will grow in that moment, even though it’s not good news. It’s always better to face reality than to bask in delusion.
YOU: Okay. Can you share the concerns with me?
PEGGY: I guess — I’d say that there’s a concern that you may be too externally-focused, spending a lot of time with customers, versus what I think the viewpoint is that the job should be more focused on the operations here in the office.
YOU: For sure, that makes sense. We’ve had several conversations about that. I guess I thought that since our last meeting there was more cohesion on that issue, that we were in synch.
PEGGY: Well, I’m not sure that’s the case.
THIS IS YOUR MOMENT OF ADVANTAGE. GRAB IT! DO NOT TRY TO TURN BACK THE HANDS OF TIME. NEGOTIATE!
YOU: So, really if I made a plan to exit the organization that would be the best thing.
PEGGY: I mean, if you’re thinking along those lines…
YOU: Well I hadn’t been, quite honestly, but I very much appreciate your candor and I’m a firm believer in energetic alignment. If it’s not a good fit, no harm, no foul, but I should move along. Have you and the other leaders talked about what would constitute a reasonable exit package?
PEGGY: No! Nothing that specific.
YOU: May I share my thinking with you?
PEGGY: Sure. Yes. I don’t know that I can promise anything.
YOU: Understood. I think four months of salary and my expected bonus for this quarter is appropriate, since I’ve been here for four years doing what I think you’ll agree is an excellent job based on the job I was hired for.
PEGGY: Yes, well things change —
YOU: And that’s why it seems to be a good time for me to exit, but that doesn’t change the fact that I’ve done exactly what I was hired to do. I think two months of health insurance and a LinkedIn recommendation from you would round out the package that would make it easy for me to move on with mutual respect.
PEGGY: I can take that upstairs.
YOU: That’s fine. I appreciate your time and your honesty.
It’s always better to get these things out on the table. The leaders upstairs are most likely going to green-light your proposal or negotiate a bit with you. They will be glad you understand what’s happening and aren’t going to make the transition difficult for them. It’s easier for them to pay you than to keep the suspense going!
This approach has a name. We call it the Third Path. The first path is to quit and the second one is to get fired. The Third Path maintains respect for everybody, keeps you whole and gets you out of their hair.
Our company is called Human Workplace. We’re a publishing, coaching and consulting firm. Our eBooks, courses, tools, curriculum and private coaching and consulting help people and organizations grow their flames and build Muscles and Mojo for the new-millennium workplace.