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(Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)
(Cinders McLeod/The Globe and Mail)

nine to five

How do I keep my job away from the chopping block? Add to ...

THE QUESTION

I’ve worked for my company for three tumultuous years, during which I have seen six people be dismissed – out of a staff of only 16. Everyone is worried, thinking “Am I next on the chopping block?”

I have always met or exceeded goals, I am well-liked, my subordinates perform well, and I have branched out to take on instructor duties.

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Sales are good, production is high, and the plant is doing well financially, so that isn’t an issue. Anywhere else I would feel pretty secure. But I don’t here.

Often the dismissals come as a complete shock; there seems to be no rhyme or reason to the terminations.

What should I do to address my concerns? I have thought of bringing it up in my performance review, but I don’t want it to seem like I’m looking elsewhere (which I am, passively – I have a mortgage and a baby and can’t afford to simply be dropped).

I like it here, and I like my co-workers. I don’t want to work elsewhere, I just don’t want to worry about being let go for little or no reason, either.

THE FIRST ANSWER

Doug Nathanson

Chief human resources officer, Canadian Tire, Toronto

It is natural for employees to feel insecure about their job security when they witness a high turnover of staff.

At your workplace, the employee changes may have come as a surprise, particularly if your former colleagues seemed to do a good job. But remember there are always a multitude of factors at play in these circumstances, not all of which will be known . Don’t spend too much time speculating on these matters.

Given how hard you are working and that you are happy and doing well in your position, you do not want to be seen as the office gossip asking loaded questions about people leaving. Instead, ensure you have open lines of communication with your managers about what it takes to succeed in your job and at the company. Try to have both formal and informal one-on-one meetings with your supervisors to discuss expectations, the measures considered when evaluating and ranking employees and how you can solicit feedback.

Combine a commendable interest in your professional development within the company with the dedication you are showing toward your job, and I’m sure you can position yourself positively and feel more secure about where you stand.

THE SECOND ANSWER

Zuleika Sgro

Human resources partner, talent manager, Questrade.com, Toronto

When it comes to companies letting staff and the impact it has on the “survivors,” I understand why you are concerned. It is difficult for companies to disclose the reasons for dismissing staff. So many times these come across as surprise situations, but dismissals are usually justified for a business reason.

The best advice I can give is what one of the best mentors I’ve had gave to me: Treat each day you work as if it could be your last. This may sound harsh, but anything can happen to anyone in the workplace at any time, from losing their job, to being promoted to changing companies. It’s important that you focus on advancing your career and do everything you can each day to succeed in your role without worrying about factors over which you have no control, such as why others are being let go.

You work hard, are well respected, and enjoy where you are – so focus on that. Concentrate your energy on improving your skills in your current role. However, it never hurts to have a contingency plan. To reduce your stress, map out your Plan B as to what you would do if you were let go. Keep your résumé and social-media profile up to date. This will help you reflect on your accomplishments, assuring you that you will land on your feet regardless of what’s thrown your way. Focus on your own destiny and not the “what ifs.”

As for raising this with your manager, position it in a way that focuses on you and not what happens to others. You could begin with “I would like to develop with this company for the long term, so here is what I am doing … Do you see any future concerns that may have an impact on my role? … Is there anything I could be doing better to help with the success of the company?” This will demonstrate your commitment and provide you with an opportunity to discuss future challenges.

Are you facing a burning issue at work? Need help navigating that minefield? Let our Nine To Five experts help solve your dilemma. E-mail your questions to ninetofive@globeandmail.com. Confidentiality ensured. Weigh in with your view at tgam.ca/careers. Check out past columns here.

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Careers

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