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No one’s job is safe

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in Leaders & Managers,Management Training

Jane, head of merchandising for a fashion company in California, talks about her challenges dealing with employees amid a business slump.

We let four employees go last month. Our CEO assures us he's doing everything to avoid more cuts.

No one believes him. Or maybe they realize he cannot predict how long this downturn will last and whether it will get worse.

What's weird is how people are treating me. Because they see me as one of the CEO's favorites, I'm suddenly getting more attention than ever. People gravitate to me in the lunchroom to find out what I might know about impending layoffs.

I keep telling them, "I'm as much in the dark as you are."

It's frustrating how uncertainty takes on a life all its own. Focusing on the actual work is always a challenge in this organization because we have a lot of emotional, high-maintenance people who carry on all the time. But because we're preoccupied with losing our jobs, the distraction is far greater.

I haven't told anyone about this, but I had a confidential chat with the CEO yesterday. I asked him about our future.

"We'll get through this," he said. "But my options are limited. We miss our revenue targets and that heightens the urgency for cost control."

He didn't assure me my position was safe, which really unnerved me. He also hinted that with the board of directors pressuring him to slash expenses more aggressively, even his job was shaky.

After that conversation, I'm more on edge than ever. But I have to put on a game face with my peers and employees and not reveal my anxiety. It's a tall order.

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