SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 24, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- The 2008 recession forced numerous companies to lay off many employees. After these downsizings there seemed to be a common belief among those remaining that only very poor performers were fired. Strengths-based leadership development company Zenger Folkman has gathered data from many companies to find out what factors influenced the decision of which employees should go. Their research has shown some consistent signs among the employees they chose.
"Getting fired doesn't happen only to employees who are late, have bad attitudes, or are incompetent," said Joe Folkman, President of Zenger Folkman, "the data showed that three-fourths of the people who were asked to leave didn't have a negative performance review and had no clue it was coming."
How can employees feel secure with their jobs? What helps to keep your name off "that list"? This news may be very unsettling to many, but the good news is there are ways to gauge how secure you are.
First, look around and measure what kind of support you have. Are you the lone man on the island or have you developed relationships with people who will speak on your behalf? Zenger Folkman found that those employees who were let go typically had no sponsor and poor interpersonal skills. It is not good enough to be a technical genius; you have to learn to communicate as well.
Next, be more strategic and open to change. You need to add value to the organization not just keep your head down and get the work done. Look up, see the big picture, and make it better. Be open to new approaches and be flexible. Those employees who weren't adaptable were an easy target for downsizing.
Finally, while poor performance may not be the only reason people are fired it is one of the main criteria. When employees struggle to consistently deliver results they won't remain long even if they are likable.
Jack Zenger, CEO of Zenger Folkman, said, "be a little bit paranoid about keeping deadlines, being on time, and setting the bar high. Make yourself indispensable to the organization, and above all, have unquestionable ethics and integrity. If there is one person people want to get rid of in an organization, it is a dishonest employee."