Too many people have heard those words from their boss, often without any warning. The loyalty companies used to show their employees, and vice versa, isn't what it used to be. I've seen many people go through the phases of getting new jobs, growing comfortable and confident in their career, just to get shafted without warning by their employer. Every single time, I see two truths play out.
Truth #1: Employers Are Usually The Problem, NOT The Employee
When a company decides to let one of its employees go, it was either a hiring error or a communication error. Just last night I had a conversation with some close friends about problems in the workplace. Sam (made up the name) loves her job and has been a linchpin employee for years. Her work environment was awesome; that is until the owner of the company made a bad hire.
The new employee actually has a reputation with enough negative influence that people won't come to work for this company while she's still working there. That's not to mention the fact that this company is losing some very good and experienced labor because they have had enough of the problem employee. The frustrations from the original staff, including Sam, have been thoroughly communicated to the owner, but he has yet to fire the person responsible for the problems. This was a hiring mistake, no doubt, and now it's a firing mistake (because it should have been done long ago).
The more common problem I see is an employer who fails to communicate its expectations clearly. The employee works hard at what they think their employer wants, while the employer privately observes what they perceive to be a lack of performance, right up until termination day. The employer incorrectly assumes the employee knows what is expected of them. This assumption allows them to feel justified when it comes time to speak the words "you're fired;" after all, they knew they were underperforming, right? Instead of addressing the issue by communicating clearer expectations, the company decides to start over with a fresh victim. This shouldn't be. Either the company hired the wrong person or they didn't communicate their expectations clearly enough. Either way, the fault rarely rests with the employee.
Truth #2: Our Identities Are Tied To Our Jobs
It never fails: in the tough times, in between jobs, people doubt. We doubt ourselves, our abilities, our self worth, even our identity. When a job offer is made; things start looking up. As time goes on, our confidence builds. We get more comfortable in the new career. We start dressing like we belong in the professional world again, with a new bounce in our step, a firmness to our handshake. Introductions start to include a legitimate company name and title. The swag returns.
Then something terrible (at least it seems so in the moment) happens. For one of the two reasons listed above, we get canned; tossed to the curb like a dirty rag. Every part of the identity we built upon our career crumbles. The house search is put on hold, the car payments start to fall behind, and the bank account drains right along with our ego. Fear and doubt begin their terrible reign.
Occupation is like a self-worth gauge for most people: it shouldn't be. Yes, there is a real and valid correlation between being reliably employed and being a good and reliable employee; but as I mentioned above, the human beings employing us are often the real problem. Job or no job, you are the same person and have the same value to your friends, family and to the world. The fact that you aren't employed just means the value inherent within you isn't being extracted.
That's right, I said it; a job is just a value extractor; that's why we get a paycheck. The employer is paying for the value being harvested from us. They need our intellect, education, skills, our very hands and feet, to accomplish their business goals. Just because they failed to target the correct assets within you doesn't mean they aren't there. Being unemployed just means part of our inherent value isn't being utilized at the moment. Getting a job simply activates the skills and abilities already contained within each and every one of us. Value is intrinsic.
So whether you're in between jobs or just struggling with self-confidence, don't forget to remind yourself: "I am valuable, I have something to give to the world, I am who I am, and who I am is good enough!"