Whenever the job market improves, employers are more inclined to let subpar or irritating workers go, figuring they can get better-quality employees. I'm seeing more information from pollsters and consultants who say employees need to be aware if they're being nudged out the door. A June report from Harris Interactive said 27 percent of managers surveyed "have a direct report that they would like to see leave their company." The surveyed managers listed these red flags:
• Your manager is pointing out more of your shortcomings.
• Your responsibilities are reduced, or you're not part of certain meetings or projects.
• Your communications come by email, not in person or on the phone, and you're out of the loop.
• A new employee is hired to do the same work you do.
• In social workplaces that have after-work gatherings, you're not invited.
Job retention hinges on many factors. Sometimes, personalities simply don't mesh. When it's unlikely that your boss will change, you could be out the door, no matter how well you do your job.
But if your boss has performance complaints about you, you must find out what those are. If formal evaluations or meetings aren't making the problem clear, you must ask.
Ask how you are disappointing your managers and how you can improve. Immediately. The damage already may be done. But you may be able to make the case that you want to do better, that you can do better, and that you want your boss's confidence.
And managers, do your employees a huge favor: Be direct and specific about their need for improvement. Those conversations aren't comfortable, but they're easier than a pink slip meeting. And it wouldn't hurt to boost confidence by finding something nice to say, if you can.