How To Recognize When You're On the Chopping Block

As an entrepreneur, the probability I get fired is much less likely than having to fire one of my employees. Sadly, this means I’ve put many under performers on the chopping block. As a person who values transparency, I let my employees know when they are on the chopping block. Yet, time and time again, they leave my office utterly shocked when I tell them to pack their bags. Why is this?

Recognizing when you’re on the chopping block is simply a matter of being aware of the following warning signs. If you address your faults before, instead of after you get fired, you can save your career.

#1 Performance Reviews Are A Nightmare

Performance reviews give your boss an opportunity to kindly mention you’re on the chopping block. Comments that feel like punches to the stomach, instead of words of encouragement are a sure sign you need to change your behaviour. As a boss, I will not tolerate employees who perpetually make no improvement. By dismissing the feedback, these employees come across as entitled or plainly not interest in the job. Three strikes, you’re out.

#2 Your Boss is Doing Your Work For You

If your responsibilities are being assumed by your boss, expect you’re on the chopping block. If you’re a manager, notice when your subordinates overstep your decision-making authority and report to your boss directly. Decreasing your involvement in major projects is a sign you are being phased out.

#3 You Never Get Invited

Employees are hired for their knowledge. You know what they say, knowledge is power—at least until your boss no longer trusts your judgment. If you notice your boss no longer seeks or is dismissive of your opinion, your boss has a lack of confidence in your decision-making skills. Also, take note of which meetings you’re invited to. Also, if you notice there are important meetings involving everyone on your team except you, it’s likely you’re on the chopping block. The same applies to social events outside of work.

#4 Documentation Doubles

Do you have more paperwork than usual? If so, it’s a sign you’re on the chopping block. Whether you’ve been asked to provide detailed reports about time and expenses or have been receiving critical feedback in writing, increasing paper trails and being micromanaged is never a good thing.  

#5 You Made a Major Mistake

It happens to the best of us. For some, it’s an accident we make in our twenties. For others, it’s a reputation damaging mistake that will cost the company more than your salary to fix. In this situation, your ability to keep your job depends on your crisis-management skills. If you take responsibility for your actions and come to your boss with well thought-out solutions, there might be a chance you can save yourself from the chopping block.

Recognizing when you’re on the chopping block comes down to being socially and personally aware of your surroundings. Avoiding the chopping block comes down to improving your performance before it’s too late — a topic I’ll save for another blog post.