I have talked to hundreds of people who have been notified that their jobs were going away and discovered many common tell-tale signs that should have warned them of the upcoming notification.
How many of these signs do you relate to? If the answer is 5 or more, you may be on the next RIF list!
Your company is being acquired: Being acquired might be good for the health of your employer, but there will be a lot of overlap in job descriptions and a lot of layoffs that have nothing to do with how well you do your job.
You are finding it almost impossible to get approval or ‘buy in’ on projects: The boss is suddenly silent when it comes to approval. You’re being passed around from middle-manager to middle-manager. You get voicemail 98% of the time you call someone for their opinion, and the other 2% it’s their secretary…who then puts you through to voicemail. No-one is going to green-light a project from someone whose time is up at that company. They don’t want to associate themselves with the kiss of death that is your idea. If it happens to be a great idea, no worries, they’ll take credit for it once you’re gone.
Your boss is attending mandatory training or off site meetings that he/she can not discuss with you: Chances are he/she is attending RIF training, the sessions are delivered by Human Resources and Legal Counsel and includes training people managers how to avoid wrongful dismissal or age discrimination lawsuits.
You are given an impossible jobs with no chance of success: - This one is underhanded, which is why it’s so popular. The company may need a big reason to give you the boot, especially if you’ve done everything right and are the life and soul of your department.
You have less responsibilities: - Being stripped of your responsibilities is a sure-fire sign that there’s something unpleasant on the horizon. After all, you don’t RIF someone who’s got a ton of important work to do, with loads of people underneath him/her.
You are no longer "In the Loop": Suddenly you’re finding out about company news from your neighbor. If you were formally in the know about all things business related, but now suffer from “the company’s doing what??” - The writing is probably on the wall.
People are avoiding you: Eye-contact is difficult to make with someone if you know he or she is on the RIF list. Small talk is just as tough. It’s best just to avoid that person altogether.
You have recently been asked or assigned to work on a “special project”: This could have many other names. “New company initiative” or “Confidential research assignment” are other known terms for this. But it basically comes down to one role…the project takes you away from real work and puts you on something that’s either mildly important, not important at all, or is going away.
Your successes and accomplishments are being glossed over: Did your boss used to praise you up to management? Were you a golden boy or girl? If you’re not getting kudos, you may be getting RIF'd.
Your immediate boss or mentor is gone: If someone you trusted and respected, like a boss or mentor, is no longer around for whatever reason (promotion, fired, RIF'd, quit) this could spell trouble.
You see management paralysis: When you start to see memos with elaborate descriptions of the thought process explaining why they're just going to stay the course because they don't know what else to do and don't want to make things worse.
You see analysis paralysis: Watch for analysis paralysis, when there's less activity from sales but senior managers spend more time analyzing the same data. "That's a clear sign there's something wrong."
You recently receive a pay freeze or a pay cut: There are a few reasons this could happen, none of them are good. Either the company is in trouble and they need to cut costs, or you’re in trouble.
You have seen a job posting for your company that matches or consolidates your job description with another: Human resources and management can be crafty. They don’t want to RIF you without having someone waiting in the wings to immediately fill your shoes. That’s why it’s not uncommon to see your job or a consolidated job out on the Internet months before you eventually get RIF'd. Worse still they hire your replacement before you’re RIF'd and you get to teach the newbie how to do your job.
You are currently being ‘retrained’ or are taking coaching sessions? Retraining or coaching is often a way to try and save an employee who has lost his or her way. But its also another one of those ‘cover the company’s butt’ scenarios, in which HR demonstrates they did everything they possibly could to save your job.
Of course this is not a scientific study. Many of these things happen as part of a normal work environment and if only few relate to you, then don't worry about it.
But if you do relate to five or more, don't stick your head in the sand, read Joe's next blog with recommendations on what actions you should take now if you think you are on the next RIF list. Click here.