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In the company I currently work at, I noticed that on average people in my team leave at a rate of about 1 person a month. New people are being hired, but 1 person who was previously in the team leaves either by their own volition or they are being fired. This also doesn't depend on how long the person has been in the company - sometimes people which have been working for the company for multiple years leave the company. I can assume which people were fired vs which people went by their own volition because usually the manager emphasizes when someone is leaving by their own will.

We primarily work from home and I cannot know why people were fired - maybe their work ethic was bad, maybe some other things. But what I do know is that having this turnover of people makes me a bit anxious - am I going to be fired as well? This is especially true because sometimes people who seemed to be doing their tasks properly and on-time (and who worked for the company for multiple years) were suddenly fired.

During my performance review with my manager, I was thinking about bringing this up. I was thinking of saying something like this:

There is one thing I'd like to bring up: In the recent months, I've noticed that some people have been let go from the company. This causes me a bit of anxiety for my own position. I want to re-emphasize that if there's anything that you are not satisfied with regarding my cooperation with you, you can always reach out to me and say so. If you see that the message is not getting through, feel free to be more direct. I really like working in this company and I'd like to continue cooperating with you, but the rate at which people leave the company does cause me a bit of anxiety.

Is this a good idea or no? Should I bring this up with my manager if it's causing me some anxiety?

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  • How big is this company? In a company with millions of employees 1 per month being fired is a suspiciously low number.
    – Gantendo
    Commented May 5 at 14:20
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    Why do you think that they need to be told that they can always reach out if they are unsatisfied with your work? Are they unaware of that fact? In theory it is possible they tried to correct and help those other employees for years. If they fire people for little reason, you telling them that you are open to feedback will not change that fact. Your anxiety is telling you to fix a problem that may not exist, and if it does fixing it is not one of your assigned responsibilities (which means you probably shouldn't try to do it).
    – Gantendo
    Commented May 5 at 14:34
  • High turnover rate is a primary indicator for a poorly run company. Any decent company would try to address this (no matter what the reason is). If yours is not, than it's time to start looking elsewhere: you are not going to be happy there long term.
    – Hilmar
    Commented May 5 at 18:40
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    Yes, you can ask that question. It is normal to share you concerns with your manager. Commented May 6 at 6:11
  • 2
    Which country/jurisdiction?
    – gidds
    Commented May 6 at 14:44

5 Answers 5

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  1. I think it's perfectly reasonable being concerned when you see people leaving a company not of their own choosing.
  2. It's also reasonable to make sure your own performance review is as useful and helpful to you as possible
  3. I do think it's a mistake to try and link the two though.

You have no evidence why these people left. Maybe they were truly awful, maybe the company's structure is in permanent flux and they were no longer needed, maybe something else. But my personal opinion is if you ask what you suggest it sounds a bit like you are concerned your own performance and may plant a seed in your managers' mind.

Better to keep the two things separate. Feel free to ask about the people leaving ("is the company in financial difficulty?", "should we be worried in our team?") but leave your own performance out of it.

Equally in your performance review emphasise how you want to grow, become more useful to the company, how you want positive and negative feedback, ask for goals which have objectives that are measurable, etc. But leave out any suggestion of poor performance from yourself.

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  • Good advice. Focus on going forward and how you can be more valuable to the company. If you are in fear for your job, you are in the wrong place anyway.
    – DogBoy37
    Commented May 5 at 17:52
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The whole point of a performance review is to review your performance. If your manager tells you that your performance is good or great, you can relax a little about the chances of being fired. This may be the kind of place that fires people who aren't doing well, and only keeps those who are good or great. Or it may be the kind of place that fires or lays off people based on the mix of work coming in, or other reasons that have nothing to do with a person's performance.

There really is no polite way to say "hey, unlike other people, I totally want to do a good job and would rather not get fired. Can I ask you to please [do a perfectly normal thing that all bosses are supposed to do], which you otherwise wouldn't, because of my special case of preferring not to be fired?" It just sounds like "I think you are not good at your job" and will not help your situation. This is especially the case with the wording in your question: you can always reach out to me and say so - Darn right I can buddy, I am the boss, I don't need your permission to tell you when you're not performing well. You sound like you feel you have the power to give the boss permission to critique you, or to with-hold that permission. That's probably not your intent, but that's how it sounds.

You can say something like "the higher turnover recently had me a little worried. Can you give me any insight into why more people are leaving lately?" but you may just get platitudes rather than useful information.

You will have to learn how much uncertainty you can live with. There are people who end up in stable and consistent companies, making perhaps a little less than they could if they took more risks, or doing slightly less exciting work, because it means less worry and anxiety. There are people running huge risks and finding them exhilarating rather than scary, because they have a "safety net" of money saved up, and they're good at landing jobs, so the whole thing feels exciting. Knowing which kind of person you are will help you navigate the choices you make over your career. That's useful work. Trying to find the magic sentence that will prevent someone unexpectedly firing you is not.

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There are ways to express your concern without explicitly stating that you have fear of being let go.

For example, you can ask, "What things would you suggest that would make my efforts more valuable to the company?"

Anxiety itself is best handled outside of the workplace environment. That is better handled by talking to a professional or by building a strong support group where you can talk about your anxiety safely. The goal will be to give you other ways of handling complex situations.

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    This is bad advice because (A) sane people don't talk like that and (B) they would not know what you mean and try to find the meaning behind your words. But it is true that anxiety is a you-problem and not a company-problem and that talking about it with someone you trust is a good idea.
    – Gantendo
    Commented May 5 at 14:36
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    @Gantendo The formulation sure sounds a bit ... constructed... but in essence, you can always ask whether there is an area your manager would currently see as a weakness for your personal development and frame it as a career development question. The problem with suggesting a concrete formulation is knowing the company culture and team/1-1 atmosphere. Commented May 5 at 15:08
  • More common, and more useful phrasing: "What do I need to work on? What skills do you think will be needed for career growth? What can I do to help you justify my next raise and)or promotion?" And, separately, "Obviously, everyone is always afraid of layoffs. Do you have any sense of whether we are growing or shrinking headcount, and in what areas?"
    – keshlam
    Commented May 8 at 12:27
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This feels like a communication flop on the part of leadership, which should have anticipated the tension and been more upfront about these changes. So your concern has merit.

What to do and what not to do:

  • Performance Evaluation: I would argue against bringing this up in a performance review.

The focus of the performance review is YOUR performance. Asking about reasons for firing others is second-guessing the company's management, which may put your manager in an uncomfortable position of speaking for others, thus risking their trust. It also puts your manager in a defensive position.

Don't make yours an issue that isn't about you - it gives the impression that you are concerned about your own performance, whereas you should project confidence and calm, not anxiety.

  • Better options: That said, is this topic completely off-limits? Not necessarily, and there is probably a more opportune time and place to raise the question. For instance, you could voice the concern in passing during a quick regular one-on-one with your manager, or (even better) during a team meeting. In any case, bring it up in the form of a general question, disconnecting it from worries about your individual prospects and performance.

Possible wording: "I was wondering if you could share any additional context for the recent departure of several other staff?"

I would leave it at that. No need to explain why you are asking the question -- this will only convey your anxiety. If the manager asks you to clarify what you mean, simply say the same thing in different words: "It seems a few of the staff have left the company in recent weeks, so I was just wondering if you could share any details around that." If the manager pretends to 'play dumb' and claim complete ignorance, or actually has no clue, leave it at that and drop the topic.

You don't need need to be apologetic about asking the question or have to explain yourself any more than that. Good luck!

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Saying that you are worried about getting fired paints a bulls eye right on your back, so don’t tell anyone. If you are worried then look for jobs elsewhere. But if the manager decided to fire someone and now has to decide whom then you put your name right at the front of the list in his little brain.

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