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"At-will" employees may be let go at any time for almost any or no reason. They may not be fired for illegal reasons, such as race or religion, but outside of civil rights, at-will employees may be told, "Thanks, but we no longer need your services anymore. We will mail you your last check."
Actually, this statement does not always come as a surprise. There are signs that your tenure at your current organization is coming to a close. At LinkedIn, Liz Ryan, the CEO and founder of Human Workplace, discusses a few dynamics that indicate you may be replaced, including:
1. Decrease in Responsibilities
If you are part of a big project and suddenly pulled off, this is a bad sign. If your boss has something bigger or more important going on and needs your help, you may breathe a sigh of relief and put your all into the new assignment. If you are confused as to why you were pulled off of the project, go ahead and ask. Indirect or unclear answers should send a red flag.
Sometimes, it is your own project that suddenly goes cold. Last week, your project was a high priority and this week it is considered an after-thought. Ryan says this usually means the project will be given high priority again after you are replaced.
2. You Suddenly Have Valuable Knowledge
Everybody likes to be asked what they think. It makes people feel important. Plus, mentorship opportunities may benefit both mentors and proteges. Proteges get training and mentors are recognized as valuable teachers and leaders.
However, not all "opportunities" to mentor are for your benefit. When suddenly you are asked to teach another worker the things you do on your job, you may be training your replacement. If everybody needs to dip into your knowledge base, it may because they know you won't be there to ask in another week or two.
3. Conflicts Disappear
This is a sinister one, because a conflict disappearing may seem, at first, as if the conflict were resolved. However, if you don't know how it has been resolved, but everything is fine and dandy, the resolution may be that you're are leaving.
Not all conflicts are personal. There may be disagreements about how to best run the office or arguments about other aspects of business. And healthy discussions in which people put different ideas on the table may get heated. This, in itself, does not mean somebody is going to get fired. But if you don't know why everything is suddenly not a big deal, you may be out.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you ever suspected you were about to lose your job? What happened? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.