When It All Goes Tits Up

Ev­ery­thing sud­denly gone wrong at work? Don’t worry – we’ve got you cov­ered!

Cosmopolitan (South Africa) - - WORK - By ClAre Thorp

Bad stuff hap­pens. This is a univer­sal truth. But when the prover­bial hits the fan, re­mem­ber two things: first, fail­ure is fun­da­men­tal to suc­cess (see all those TED Talks if you don’t be­lieve us); sec­ond, there’s al­ways some­thing you can do. We spoke to those who’d been there, seen that and fixed the prob­lem. Here’s what they learnt.

You failed your pro­ba­tion

Three months into the job, and they’re still not quite sure if you’re a ‘good fit’, so guess what? They’re ex­tend­ing your pro­ba­tion. ‘This is a de­ci­sion that can re­ally knock your con­fi­dence,’ says Aliya Vigor-Robert­son, co-founder of HR con­sul­tancy Jour­neyHR. ‘With­out be­com­ing de­fen­sive, you need to get clear feedback on your per­for­mance and where you’ve fallen short.’

So in­stead of hid­ing in the loo, dust your­self off and ask your line man­ager for a meet­ing. ‘Get them to set some clear ob­jec­tives that can be mea­sured – that’s the im­por­tant bit,’ says Vig­orRobert­son. ‘You don’t want am­bi­gu­ity in what’s ex­pected of you. Then catch up reg­u­larly to check you’re on track.’ If you fail your pro­ba­tion out­right, you can try to ar­gue it – but un­less they’ve dis­crim­i­nated against you in some way (check out Ccma.org.za), there’s not much you can do, as you’ve been there less than two years. If you sense things aren’t go­ing well a few weeks into a new job, don’t wait un­til that three-month re­view. Ask for feedback while you’ve still got a chance to change things. DID YOU KNOW? You’re not alone. Nearly one in five peo­ple ei­ther fails their pro­ba­tion pe­riod or ends up hav­ing it ex­tended.

You lied on your CV and got found out

You’ve never ac­tu­ally climbed Mount Kil­i­man­jaro, you don’t speak French, and as for that weekly vol­un­teer­ing you do… Claw­ing back a lie in an in­ter­view is tough – they don’t know you yet, and there are other can­di­dates who (prob­a­bly) have not fibbed.

Your only real op­tion is to put your hand up, apol­o­gise and ex­plain why you did it – i.e., be­cause you re­ally, re­ally want to work there.

Your chances of mak­ing it through this also de­pend on the lie. Hob­bies and the like are kind of okay (in one sur­vey, 72% of hir­ers said they weren’t both­ered by fibs in the per­sonal-in­ter­ests sec­tion), while claim­ing a few skills you don’t have is re­cov­er­able, says John Lees, au­thor of How To Get A Job You Love, be­cause you can say you’re plan­ning to learn them im­mi­nently.

But if you’ve lied about work­ing some­where you didn’t or your qual­i­fi­ca­tions, ex­pect lit­tle sym­pa­thy. Even if you got the job and are out of your pro­ba­tion pe­riod when you’re found out, there could still be con­se­quences. ‘Your con­tract can be ter­mi­nated based on the fact that you were hired un­der false pre­tences,’ says Vigor-Robert­son. Worstcase sce­nario? You could even be pros­e­cuted. (In 2013, 324 peo­ple faced charges for ly­ing on their CV, ac­cord­ing to UK fraud-pre­ven­tion ser­vice CIFAS.) So stick to the truth, how­ever dull it may be.

DID YOU KNOW? The South African Fraud Pre­ven­tion Ser­vice is one or­gan­i­sa­tion that in­ves­ti­gates CV fraud.

You’re made re­dun­dant

Pop this one in ‘kak things about be­ing a Mil­len­nial’, along with uni­corn crap ev­ery­where and a short­ened at­ten­tion span (thanks, Twit­ter). In the first three months of 2017, 16-to-34year-olds ac­counted for a third of re­dun­dan­cies.* But you do have some con­trol.

‘The com­pany needs to pro­vide jus­ti­fi­ca­tion of how the de­ci­sion was made,’ says Vigor-Robert­son. Your per­for­mance can’t be the rea­son – if it is, you may be able to bring a claim against them. You’ll find loads of free ad­vice at Ccma.org.za and Labour.gov.za, where you can check your rights and the le­gal min­i­mum you’re owed. (You could get more – check your con­tract for your com­pany’s spe­cific pol­icy.)

While los­ing your job can feel shame­ful, no fu­ture em­ployer will judge you for it. ‘It’s only a prob­lem if you make it one,’ says Lees. ‘Re­mind your­self of your skills and take some time to work out what you have to of­fer.’ By all means, bitch to your friends – but try to put a limit on it. ‘It’s about get­ting the bad news out of your sys­tem so that when you’re in front of prospec­tive em­ploy­ers, you’re fo­cused on mov­ing on.’

DID YOU KNOW? In­come pro­tec­tion in­sur­ance ex­ists, and could pay some or all of your salary for up to a year if the worst hap­pens. But be warned: if you know re­dun­dan­cies are due in your com­pany, the in­sur­ers of­ten won’t pay out, mak­ing your monthly pay­ments worth­less.

You need to bring up men­tal health at work

Whether it’s a rough breakup, a fam­ily mem­ber taken ill or a bad bout of anx­i­ety, we all have times when our body is at work but our brain isn’t. On­go­ing men­tal-health is­sues re­quire a se­ri­ous con­ver­sa­tion with your boss. ‘Legally, if you’ve been di­ag­nosed with a men­tal­health is­sue, you have to be treated fairly and can’t be dis­crim­i­nated against based on your health,’ says Vigor-Robert­son.

For times when life is just kick­ing you in the balls, hon­esty is best, too. If your boss has no­ticed your work is slip­ping, it’s bet­ter they know there’s a rea­son for it, and that it’s tem­po­rary – rather than just as­sum­ing you can’t be both­ered. ‘Com­mu­ni­cate clearly about how it’s mak­ing you feel,’ says Vigor-Robert­son. ‘Ex­plain that you want to do your best and you’re up­set that you can’t. You don’t have to di­vulge the de­tails – they’re your boss, not your ther­a­pist. Just ac­knowl­edge the is­sue and let them know you’re deal­ing with it.’

DID YOU KNOW? An ad agency in the Philip­pines in­tro­duced ‘break-up leave’ for its em­ploy­ees this year. *Googles work per­mits in the Philip­pines.*

You pulled a sickie – and got caught

The fes­ti­val you didn’t want to miss; the Sun­day lunch that turned into a Mon­day-morn­ing rave; the un­sea­son­ably hot spring day that would be crim­i­nal not to spend at the beach… It’s all good – un­til you get tagged on Face­book and your boss sees it.

The first rule? Never try to jus­tify it, says Lees. Whim­per­ing about how you work hard and de­serve more time off is only go­ing to wind up your man­ager more. Ad­mit it, apol­o­gise, suck up what­ever dress­ing­down you get and prom­ise never to do it again – and mean it.

‘You won’t nec­es­sar­ily be fired for this, but it starts to demon­strate dis­loy­alty and dis­en­gage­ment, and can cre­ate a lack of trust. You’ll be con­sid­ered the kind of per­son who’s not re­ally adding much value,’ says Lees. ‘Em­ploy­ers look for a pat­tern – they’re wait­ing for you to be a cliché.’ So next time you are ac­tu­ally sick, get a doc­tor’s note. (And stay off In­sta­gram, yeah?) DID YOU KNOW? The most be­liev­able time to call in sick is 6.38am on a Tues­day morn­ing. Just say­ing. ■

Warn­ing: ca­reer sal­vage in progress

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