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YOUR CAREER

12 signs you are about to lose your job

Call it denial. Call it turning a blind eye to what’s going on. But even the most business-savvy administrator can fail to see when the job is in jeopardy. People think it will happen to everyone else but not to themselves. Administrators might be observing negative goings-on in their offices without cluing in that their jobs are on the line.

The only way to stay safe is to keep the antennae up. Watch for signs the job could be in jeopardy, know what to do to get back into the partner’s good graces. Always be prepared to move on.

The nothing-personal items

The signs of doom are many, some less subtle than others.

1 On the nothing-personal side, it’s time to duck when the partner who brought the administrator into the practice is no longer being included in the big matters or is getting a lesser share of the profits—or getting pushed out of the firm entirely.

If that partner loses stature, the administrator may end up in the same boat.

2 It’s bad news too when several partners leave within a short period of time. The practice may be financially unsteady and looking at downsizing.

3 It’s further bad news when the partners start shifting the allocations in the budget. They may be trying to save a buck, and the next buck might just get saved by eliminating the administrator’s position.

4 Be wary too if there’s a stop to invitations to participate in budget planning. Take it as a sign that the picture is gloomy and the partners don’t want the administrator to know what’s going on.

The very personal items

The more personal hits are seen in the administrator’s job responsibilities.

5 An ill wind is blowing when duties start getting distributed to other people, especially if one of those other people is a partner’s secretary.

6 The wind blows even more sickly when the partners hire and fire without consulting the administrator or take away the hiring authority altogether.

7 And it’s especially ominous when the administrator is suddenly not invited to the partner meetings.

The obvious question is, “Why? Are they talking about me?”

8 Be especially wary of the cold shoulder. Avoidance behavior is a big sign. If the partners stop communicating as often as they did previously, give it more than a passing thought.

9 One shun that happens all the time when the job is on the line is a slow response to emails. If there’s been a quick response in the past but now it takes two weeks to get one, there’s a reason for that.

10 The same is true if the partners stop coming in for personal conversations and previously informal chitchat turns into formal communication.

Time to take it to the bank

The situation is at its pinnacle when the hits become direct.

11 When partners start criticizing little performance mistakes that until now they’ve not mentioned, they are likely positioning themselves to get rid of the administrator.

12 And the final axe is indeed falling when the administrator gets put on a performance improvement plan or when the firm hires an outside consultant to look at the how the administrator is doing. That is not a sign. That is a blatant indication that firing is nigh.

What to do about it

Once those signs appear, it is time to reaffirm allies and enhance the connections.

Be assertive. Set up a meeting with the boss—whether it is the managing partner or the partner who brought the administrator in—to talk about personal performance as well as the firm’s direction.

Don’t mince any words at that meeting. Use this script: “These are the things I’ve been noticing. I am hoping you will give me some insight to whether they are in direct relationship to performance and also if there are changes going on that I need to know about.”

Then give examples of what’s going on, whether it’s loss of authority or being left out of the partner meetings.

If the problem is performance, the partner will likely admit it. If so, get the specifics of what the issues are, and find out exactly what can be done to correct them.

Ask the partner to put in writing what needs to be done to improve the performance.

Afterwards, set up an action plan to make the improvements. Write out each issue and the steps that will be taken to resolve it.

As each step is completed, update the partners in writing, for example: “I just wanted to confirm that you have seen my report showing that have reorganized the filing process.”

Hopefully, they will acknowledge the improvement. What if the meeting isn’t so productive and the administrator disagrees with the partner’s perception?

Don’t argue. Be professional. But at the same time, get the resume updated and start taking action behind the scenes.

Always keep a bag packed

Never sink so far into one job as to lose the prospects for getting another, because in an organization, it’s impossible to foresee what changes may happen.

Always be watchful for new opportunities. Keep a professional network alive. Keep the resume up to date.

Do that even if everything is rosy.


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