The Silicon Valley Voice

Power To Your Voice

Work Daze – Go or Stay

Today’s sermonette is based on the work of the famous career counselor, James Durante.

Durante, who was known to friends and admirers as “the schnozzola,” is famous for the immortal song, “Do you ever get the feeling that you wanted to go, but still have the feeling that you wanted to stay?”

It’s an old song, but the sentiment is as new as this morning’s meeting with your manager. After listening to your boss’s blistering criticism of your work, your attitude and your shoes, you definitely left the meeting with the feeling that you wanted to go.

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But you also wanted to stay. If you stay, you don’t have to update your resume, or interview, or learn new skills, like working or caring.

Or maybe you’re paranoid. Maybe management doesn’t want to start interviewing, either. Maybe they believe that two birds in the bush do not equal one lazy bird pooping in their hand.

Enter Jenny Foss, who recently published “4 Signs You Might Get Fired (and 4 Signs You’re Just Being Paranoid)” on muse.com.

As Foss knows, many companies do not come right out and say, “you’re fired.” They’re too considerate and too afraid of nasty lawsuits. Instead, they do the compassionate thing — make your work life a living hell until you resign on your own.

This brings us to Sign No. 1, “Your Boss Starts Putting Everything in Writing.” According to Foss, “Few things scream, ‘I’m setting up a case for HR,’ louder than sudden acceleration of email documentation.”

“If you’re dealing with this,” Foss suggests, “be sure to create a paper trail.” I agree. The more the boss documents your sorry butt, the more you double email right back, explaining everything your boss does wrong. This should not be difficult; there’s plenty to say.

But what if you’re being paranoid? What if your boss is simply the kind of bozo or bozette who is naturally verbose? I say — don’t take chances. Crank up the emails. Send one a day, maybe one an hour, until your manager is so overwhelmed with detailed reports on your visit to the supply closet to get a new stapler, she throws in the towel and leaves you blissfully alone … and employed.

Sign No. 2 is “You Get Removed From (or Left Off) Projects.”

Does being left off lead to being laid off? Very possibly. But Foss does offer a sprig of hope. You could be paranoid and “your focus and attention is truly needed elsewhere.”

Alas, it is difficult to imagine any project that would come out better with the addition of your puny levels of focus and attention. You should start packing, but slowly. The project from which you have banished could crash, and you’ll avoid all the shame and blame.

Sign No. 3 is “You’re Put on a Performance Improvement Plan.”

It’s not positive when you’re put on a PIP. Your boss is setting goals that he is sure you will not be able to reach. Like getting all the way to lunchtime without your morning nap. Or are you being paranoid? “It could be that everyone is rooting for you,” Foss says.

Yes, indeed it could. It could also be that everyone knows you are going to be promoted to a position with a giant salary, a surfeit of stock options and a new Tesla to toodle around in. The PIP is simply a way to show the world that you are worthy of this major bump.

It’s something you can consider as your set up your new home in a refrigerator box under the freeway.

Sign No. 4 is completely useless — “People Start Acting Quiet or Weird Around You.” Considering your co-workers, the critical sign would be if people actually stopped acting quiet or weird about you. When your fellow employees start acting normal, paranoid or not, it’s definitely time to go.

The way I see it, there’s only one sure sign that says you going to go. Security guards arrive at your desk. They sweep all your personal items into a cardboard box, which is tossed on the pavement, with you tossed right behind.

You could be paranoid and the entire process is simply management’s way to say that you’ve been working too hard, and they’re sending you off for an expense-paid, sun-kissed vacation on the talcum powder beaches of Congo-Bongo.

You could certainly think that way. It will be comforting while you and the other paranoids sit under the freeway, working on your tans.

Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at bob@bgplanning.com.

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