Double down on your work but don’t beg for your job
Updated: June 29, 2017
The man who greenlit “The Apprentice” may be about to get fired.
CNN chief Jeff Zucker, who ran NBC Entertainment when it birthed the famous reality TV show helmed by Donald Trump, is reportedly at risk of being “neutralized.” The New York Post cited sources at AT&T in its report claiming that the telecommunications conglomerate could seek to freeze out, fire or “kick upstairs” Zucker if its $109 billion deal to acquire CNN parent Time Warner goes through. This follows fiascos at the news channel that have grabbed headlines, such as a recent CNN story about alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia that Trump’s favorite media target later said it couldn’t stand by.
Whether Zucker gets fired is a matter of debate— like those of many other media outlets in the Trump presidency, CNN has seen a sharp spike in ratings recently. He’s also not the first person associated with Trump at risk of being canned. Earlier this month, there was chatter that Trump was about to fire his son-in-law Jared Kushner, who holds numerous powerful positions in the White House. But even if you’re not in Kushner or Zucker’s position, management experts say there are still steps you can take to make life easier.
One potentially successful move is doubling down on work and spending more time with your boss. “This gives them the impression that they have your undivided loyalty and commitment,” says Roy Cohen, a New York career coach. “Just because the person’s a boss doesn’t mean they’re not human and needy. Sometimes, they just need a little hand-holding” to see that you’re an asset.
Indeed, many companies give employees at risk of being fired sometime to turnaround their performance. “You’re normally notified by HR that you’re being watched, so if you’re in the crosshairs, turn up the juice,” says management expert Debra Benton.
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You can also take the Kellyanne Conway route. The president’s counselor has been ubiquitous on cable TV as a surrogate, but restricted her number of appearances a few months ago amid speculation she was being pushed out of the White House. She’s still there today. “She has a flawless sense of timing and knows when to pull back and let others take credit,” says Cohen, author of “The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.” This is useful especially in large organizations, where change is constant. “Another issue may emerge and then someone else becomes the target,” he says.
Another helpful thing to do would be to discretely pave the way out. “Have a good story to tell people that doesn’t sound like you’re undermining the organization,” says Cohen. He recalls a client who was being forced out of a firm telling prospective new employers that he’d been with his old firm for 10 years and felt it was time to move on. “That’s a legitimate explanation.”
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One thing not to do is to become overly anxious. First of all, unless you get a warning from a higher up, you may just be imagining signs. Second, begging for your job after a decision has been made doesn’t work. “Pleading makes you look desperate,” says Cohen. “If the situation at your company is already dysfunctional, you’re just setting up yourself to be abused further.”
And finally, remember that even if you get canned, you can often negotiate your severance package. “There’s usually precedent for some compensation if you get fired,” says Benton, co-author of “The Leadership Mind Switch.” If you’re offered one, remember that you can ask for more. “What are they going to do? Fire you again?” she says.
This story was updated on June 29, 2017 following a New York Post report on Jeff Zucker.
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