October 04, 2013, 12:41 PM — There's whispers of it coming, talk of "the list" and the fact that on the day in question you're praying your phone doesn't ring with a request for you to "come to the conference room."
Layoffs are still a sad, frequent fact of life for many professionals. Leadership consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman delved into what a person can do to stay off "the list" and emerged with a stunning revelation:
Less than 25% of those laid off had a negative performance review the previous year.
Zenger and Folkman tell Harvard Business Review that they collected "a substantial amount of data from one U.S.-based Fortune 100 company" after a layoff in hopes of determining common factors in those let go.
"One factor that wasn’t very predictive, it turned out, was a history of good performance reviews," they tell Harvard Business Review. "Only 23% of those who were laid off had been given a negative review the previous year. The implication is that the other 77% who were asked to leave had no clue this was coming."
The pair identified six consistent factors among those let go, noting that everyone who lost their job shared at least two.
One characteristic: poor interpersonal skills.
"Many people with weak interpersonal skills had been promoted based on their technical ability and then were not able to improve their social skills enough to succeed in their new roles," the men state. Zenger and Folkman say while many of these employees were described as "brilliant" they were also, quite frankly, not nice to work with.
Click below for a compelling read on the other factors to avoid.