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5 Signs Your Executive Role May Be at Risk

You’re an executive with a proven track record of success. You’ve consistently produced strong results, received positive feedback and felt secure in your role. Lately, however, you’ve been sensing changes around you. You don’t have specific information, but you’re beginning to worry about the status of your job.

Here are 5 signs your executive role may be at risk:

1. You’ve been shut out of key projects. You’re a highly driven executive who is known for taking on new responsibilities as needed. When something needs to get done, you’re one of the first to raise your hand. As a result, you’re often selected to represent your team on new initiatives and projects.

Recently, however, you’ve begun to notice that others have been tapped for new projects instead of you. While in your mind you’ve justified this – you’re busy, it’s time to give others a chance – you can’t help but wonder if there is something else going on.

Getting shut out of key projects is an early indication that your job may be at risk. If your leadership team does not expect you to be in your role in the near future, they won’t assign you to new projects. Stay alert to how often this is happening and the explanations given to justify the decision.

2. Your manager has become distant. You’ve always had a good relationship with your manager. The open communication that has traditionally characterized your relationship has given you access to important information and has provided you with a sense of security. You trust your manager to keep you in the loop on key changes.

Lately, though, you’ve sensed some distance. Your manager has been less accessible to you, making excuses for the lack of contact. When you do talk, he/she is brief, evasive, and visibly uncomfortable talking with you.

If your manager suddenly seems distant or awkward speaking with you, this could be an indication that your job is at risk. Most people will avoid contact rather than voluntarily experience discomfort. Before jumping to conclusions, however, try to understand if there is something else going on. Perhaps your manager is overworked or facing a personal challenge.

3. Your leadership team has changed. Your company has recently undergone high profile leadership changes. In the process, an external leader has been brought it in, which is shaking up your department. He/she has already begun to replace key leaders with former colleagues.

It’s not uncommon for new leaders to bring key members of their team with them. Even internal leaders who are charged with taking the group in a new strategic direction often make personnel changes. If there is reshuffling occurring in your department, your job may be at risk. Building alliances with influential leaders and strategically promoting your unique value can help you to avoid downsizing.

4. Your manager is asking a lot of questions about your work. You’ve always been an independent worker who has been given a lot of autonomy. You provide updates to your management as needed, but he/she generally stays out of your day-to-day activity. Recently, however, your manager has begun to ask a lot of specific questions about your role.

If your manager is uncharacteristically asking questions about your work, it could be a sign that he/she is planning to assign your work to someone new. Asking you to document your processes or provide them with key contact information could be other signs as well. Before rushing to judgment, though, try to understand why he/she is interested.

5. Your company is experiencing financial challenges. Your company has been failing to meet its financial targets. There is tension in the air as various groups struggle to justify their existence. To get things back on track, significant cost cutting will need to occur.

Financial issues are one of the most obvious signs that downsizing may be on the horizon. If your company has been struggling for consecutive quarters and there is no sign that things are turning around, your executive role may be at risk. Again, your ability to articulate your unique value will be critical to your success.

If any of these signs resonate with you, don’t panic! There could be other explanations for organizational changes or changes in behavior. Without clear and reputable information, this is all speculation.

It is, however, important to remain vigilant. Continue to perform at the highest level, but consider taking matters into your hands:

  1. Think about what’s next. You’ve been so focused on your current role that you haven’t thought much about the future. Take some time to think about what you’d like your next role to look like.

  2. Tap your executive network. Hopefully you’ve been nurturing your network all along, but if not, begin to reconnect with former colleagues and associates. This will allow you to survey the landscape and potentially identify new career opportunities.

  3. Update your career portfolio. In the event that you do find yourself needing to make a transition, you want to be armed with a powerful executive resume and LinkedIn profile.

If you fear that your executive role may be at risk, your best strategy is to be proactive!

Are there other warning signs? How have you approached these scenarios in the past? Please share your feedback in the comments.

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