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(Especially in a time of change in the workplace) what are ways of dealing with the 'paranoia' of being made redundant, that every meeting in the boss' office "must be" about people being fired / restructured out, this upcoming department meeting is definitely going to be the announcement of the end, etc...?

It's not exactly the "impostor" reflex, more a worry/perception that management will not recognise the potential or capabilities of people and just make the "easy" decision to get rid of people instead.

Edited to add: I'm not really concerned about performance as I am one of the best people! I don't have a neat job description or place in the org chart though due to being involved in so much different stuff. Is it easier to say "this one doesn't fit" and throw it out when you restructure?

What's happened: Merged with another company. Org charts being re-drawn and so on..

It's a conflict between what gets the job done and what fits neatly on an "organogram" (!)

Additional edit: I have moved on before (prematurely) due to a similar worry.

  • Is the competition hiring or firing? This affects you in two ways: you have more competition both in your current role and when applying elsewhere. – MSalters Dec 17 '15 at 1:26
  • Is there something your company is doing to make you worry? (e.g. cutbacks in other places, bad business of late, etc.) Or is it obviously just a personal paranoia issue? – David K Dec 17 '15 at 12:48
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    It's only paranoia if they're not out to get you. – Joel Etherton Dec 17 '15 at 17:30
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    @JoelEtherton: When everyone's out to get you, paranoia is really just clear thinking. – Nolo Problemo Dec 18 '15 at 20:27
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    @DaveisNotThatGuy: That's pretty much where I was going with my comment. The phrase I'd use is more like "good observation", but yours works just as well. – Joel Etherton Dec 18 '15 at 20:28
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Recognize that the cost of replacing an employee is higher than you think. When an employee leaves, a great deal of personal or tribal knowledge disappears.

Then the process of hiring a new employee is difficult as well -- there's the investment of time in interviewing candidates, and the lengthy process of bringing new employees just to the level of productivity of the old employees.

There's also the risk of a bad hire, the person who looks great on paper and gives a good interview, but ultimately can't do the work. Then you have to go back through the hiring process again...

So there are many good reasons why an employer has a vested interest in keeping people who are doing their jobs. Something else that might help ease your mind is to periodically check in with your managers and supervisors, to get their opinion on how you are doing and ways you might improve.

  • But that is not what a manager wants to say. Boss: "Bob, do not worry about being fired, because the cost to business (time lost, time spend interviewing, risk of bad employees) is so high". Bob: "Ok boss, thank you for explaining that to me. Now I want a raise". – SJuan76 Dec 16 '15 at 23:11
  • Boss answers: "On the other hand, we don't want everyone to ask for more money, so you are fired to keep the other employees happy with their salary as it is". – gnasher729 Dec 16 '15 at 23:40
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    While it's logical to assume people will realize if someone leaves that knowledge departs with them, it seems to me a lot of people forget this and assume they will just hire a much more capable person that can easily pick up that knowledge. Then they interview a bunch of people, hoping some genius will answer their ad, and are always disappointed and end up settling. Thus the cycle repeats. – Chan-Ho Suh Dec 17 '15 at 2:08
  • Better to retrain than recruit or not? – user43744 Dec 18 '15 at 20:40
  • @user43744, that is situational It is often better to retrain a good performer rather than recruit someone new. But suppose you have no one with the new skill and tight deadline, then hiring someone who has it already could be the better option. Retraining a poor performer (who is that due to lack of skills)is unlikely to work out well, but occasionally they understand the new paradigm better than they did the old one and become better performers. So a poor application dev might be a great database BI person. But nothing is worth trying to retrain an employee with a poor attitude. – HLGEM Dec 24 '15 at 19:33
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I work for a large multinational and we own restructuring and making people redundant. I have been a manager a good amount of my stay at the company. I have found there are three reasons employees are made redundant:

  1. Employee not liked by management.

  2. Employee underperforming.

  3. Group's responsibilities were cut or moved.

  4. Employee makes too much money.

  5. Employee's role does not provide enough bang for buck. (but usually this is due to point #2.

What can you do?

  1. Understand that worrying only hurts you in points #1 and #2 above.

  2. Understand that these things are TOTALLY out of your control.

  3. Work for a smaller company that wouldn't have redundancies.

  4. Look at your performance reviews. If they are poor, you should understand that you are in the first group that will get cut.

  5. Talk to your manager. During most restructures and cuts your direct manager has a lot of power. They might not be calling the shots but they can often save people.

I think mcknz's answer is very logical. However I don't think there is any logic when you are at a large company. The cuts include political battles, different levels of secrecy and some of the most irrational things I have ever seen. There was a case years back when a person I worked with underperformed so badly that we knew she was going. She was just your all around nightmare employee that not only didn't do anything but wasted everyone's time. Manager put her on the block... Some upper manager in a different department knew her husband... Saved her. But manager wouldn't take her. So she got a promotion in the other department!

You cannot live your life thinking about such randomness. If it haunts you everyday just make sure you are doing the best at your job you can, come in on time, and meet deadlines. And keep your resume updated and really if you are thinking about it that much it might be an indicator that you need to see what else is out there.

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No job is secure enough to where you can sit back and relax. Luckily for me thus far I haven't experienced a lay off but my previous employer let go a bulk of their employees but since I was part of the future direction, I didn't suffer. You shouldn't worry about it but you should be pro-active about it. Just think what you can do to minimize in the event if you do get laid off? Don't stress about feelings of worthlessness but instead what you can do to move forward and if you can't think of anything right now, then don't stress it.

The best idea is to always keep your resume up to date, and make sure you keep good contact with not only your co-workers but also departing co-workers. If you do get let go of, you never know if one of those people you kept in contact with might have a job for you and your lay off will be short. I think by having some safety net you'll feel better and not stress.

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