You’re the Boss of You

You have a terrific job with a stable company. You love your supervisor and your co-workers and they love you. The company is growing and things are good.

For now.

We can’t emphasize this enough: never become complacent. Things can – and too often do – change in an instant. Recessions hit. Companies get bought by larger companies and the buying company lays off most of the smaller business’ employees. Your beloved boss leaves and your new boss dislikes you. Really dislikes you. You turn 50.

Job stability is a myth. Let us repeat: job stability is a myth.

So who’s your real boss? YOU ARE.

Cypress jobs

You know those entrepreneurs you admire? It’s time start thinking of yourself as a business: the business of you.

That’s right: even though it’s a hot, hot, hot candidate market today, the job market is unstable. It’s therefore best to think of yourself as a free agent. Master of your future. Self-employed. A business owner.

Here’s how to think like the owner of one-employee business.

  • Always be learning. Learning new skills, both hard and soft. Get certified in something. Repeat. Get a degree (choose carefully). Learn online.  Read about your industry and the position you hold within it.
  • Look for new clients – um, employers — often. If you were a self-employed person what do you think you’d be doing a great deal of? Finding clients! You need to do the same as the boss-of-you because your only current client – your employer – could disappear quickly. And it’s better to find a new employer while you still have this one. You don’t have to take a new job if it’s offered, but keep networking, keep seeing what’s out there. Keep talking to potential “new clients.”
  • Start a side hustle. You should do this for two reasons: if you do find yourself unemployed, your side gig can help pay some bills and also because with a lot of work nights and on weekends, it could grow so that you could leave your employer and be a true self-employed dynamo. (Hint:  self-employment can be a way to have real “job stability.” Why? Because it’s much easier – and quicker—to find clients than it is to find a new employer.)

If you do find yourself suddenly free of your current “largest client,” Helpmates can help you keep earning while you look for your next “one client” (or as you build your own business).

Take a look at our current openings. If you find one or more that interest you, follow the job description’s instructions or contact the Helpmates branch nearest you.

The Signs Are There. Do You See Them? A Layoff Is Coming.

Did you not see it coming? Were you gobsmacked when your boss called you in to her office one Friday afternoon to let you know you were being pink-slipped? Did you walk out of the building in a daze as you held a small box with your personal items? Did your spouse or parents open their mouths wide in shock when you told them you’d been axed and say the words you’d been saying to yourself all afternoon: “How could this have happened!? What a surprise!!”

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What a surprise indeed.

NOT!

Very few layoffs happen in a vacuum. Truly: very few. There almost always are signs, indications of a pending reduction in force (known in the biz as a RIF) at your employer. Here are a few of them, below.

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign.

Businesses lay off employees for many different reasons. Among them are financial issues, mergers/acquisitions, loss of market share, weak earnings for more than one quarter, simple cost-cutting measures, etc.

The easy-to-see signs in such cases (corporate issues) include:

  • Your employer puts a freeze on spending. Not a freeze on hiring – not yet – but projects that a month ago were on the docket are postponed, capital improvements are delayed, etc. Business travel is curtailed and/or you’re asked to travel coach rather than business class.
  • Perks start disappearing. No more Free Lunch Fridays. Business trips have you staying overnight at The Sleep Inn, not the Hilton.
  • If there’s a big financial crisis – a merger/acquisition, stock sell-off, or your company’s latest and biggest product falls absolutely flat – start firing up your idling professional network and revamp that resume. And pronto!

You could call these signs of impending continued-employment doom “macro” signs because they tend to be of a company-wide sort. There also are signs of a “micro” ilk: they are smaller and are more subtle in their clue-giving.

  • Your boss is often too busy to meet with you. For several weeks.
  • You’re not receiving the plum assignments anymore. In fact, your workload may even lighten.
  • You’re not asked to attend key meetings anymore.
  • You’re moved to an entirely new position. One you didn’t ask for. You don’t receive a pay cut, but there’s no raise either. Extra “goodbye to you” points if the position is lower on the org chart.
  • You’re put on probation for performance issues.
  • You’re asked to take a pay cut. This could be a company- or department-wide request, if it’s more of a macro-issue for the entire department/company. Regardless, if this happens to you it’s time to start looking for a new employer…yesterday.

It’s the Economy, Bucko

Recessions, come and go, come and go, come and go. It’s the absolute way of things. Just because it’s a definite candidate market today doesn’t mean a recession doesn’t arrive in year or two. Because recessions are inevitable. And with them come layoffs: many employers lay off many hard-working, talented people. Since a recession is coming (someday, and possibly soon), we wrote recently on how to help yourself become recession-proof.

Regardless of the reason, if you’ve been let go recently, contact the recruiters at Helpmates, as we can help your find a new job and/or help you keep money coming in while you look. We look forward to hearing from you.

Having Difficult Conversations….with Your Boss

It’s natural – so work hierarchy goes – for a supervisor to call in a subordinate and have that conversation:

  • You’re performance has been lacking lately.
  • You come in to work late too often.
  • You’ve missed two project deadlines in the last month.
  • And so on.

Cypress jobs

But sometimes it’s the subordinate who needs to bring up a difficult topic with the boss:

  • I’ve noticed you didn’t assign me to the new project.
  • You provided me only a “meets expectations” rating on my annual review and I disagree with your assessment.
  • You refused to let me take Friday off when I worked the last three Saturdays in a row.
  • And so on.

Notice all the topics mentioned above have to do with the employee’s performance. Many people may be wary of bringing up such things to a manager: “If the manager had an issue with me, surely she would bring it up? No news is good news, right?”

No.

Being proactive in all things that have to do with your performance always is best when it comes to succeeding on the job and in your career. Speaking up in a professional, respectful manner puts you on a more even footing with a supervisor and helps the esteem a manager feels for you rise.

In addition, mentioning something that troubles you about your manager’s interactions with you allows you to find out if your boss does have an issue, or – and far more likely – discover that the “new” way of interacting with you is a fluke: the boss was distracted,  worried, stressed, etc.

Still, bringing it up is a very good thing. You may not want to do so at the first instance of a change in your manager’s interactions with you, but if it continues, gird yourself and ask.

Here’s how to have this conversation.

  1. Ask for permission to meet. When your boss appears calm and open, ask to meet to discuss. You should be somewhat specific, but don’t go into detail: “I’d like to discuss my review.” “I’d like to ask you something I’ve been wondering about.” And so on. You also can request a meeting in an email. Regardless of which method you choose, make it a brief request.
  2. Be clear. Don’t go into detail. Don’t whine: “I gave up three Saturdays to work here because I knew how important this project is for you. You mentioned a couple of weeks ago I could take a Friday off. Yet when I asked Wednesday, you said no. May I ask why?”
  3. Ask for your manager’s perspective. “I don’t remember any negative aspects of my review. Perhaps I missed something?” Or “Did something come up of which I’m not aware?”
  4. Listen closely and ask questions. If you’re confused about something, ask for clarification Remember, don’t whine/complain. Don’t make excuses. Explain your thinking in more detail but don’t become defensive.
  5. The goal isn’t for you to “win” and your manager to “lose.” Instead, your goal should be to arrive at a resolution about which both of you will be satisfied. For example, perhaps your boss gave you only a “meets expectations” rating because she believes your work has been better in the past and she noticed a decline. The two of you could work out an agreement that if your performance rises back to its previous level by a certain date, she will change her assessment to “exceeds expectations.”

Yes, chances are good you’re going to feel uncomfortable asking for a meeting/during the meeting.  But careers are made and broken on one’s ability – or lack of – to have difficult discussions. Look at this as an opportunity to exercise your ability to deal with discomfort.

When looking for a new job or career, check out the opportunities here at Helpmates. For more information on how we can help you find work, contact the branch office nearest you.

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