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Employee Told He’s Replaceable

Dear Harlan: I’ve been working with a new team and have been clashing with my new boss. My previous boss was a friend and mentor. I just had an annual performance review and I was told that I was replaceable. I found this to be upsetting and insulting. It also felt unprofessional. I don’t know how anyone could say this to an employee. It doesn’t motivate me to want to do better. It makes me want to move to a different team. How can I work with someone who has so little respect for me that he tells me that I’m replaceable?

— Trouble at Work

Dear Trouble:  We’re all replaceable. I know it feels demoralizing to have someone tell you this, but it’s a fact. I’m replaceable too. Every day more replacements are born. In about 21 years, the replacements will be looking for our jobs. Your boss lacks tact, but is just stating a fact. I know you’re upset and angry, but this person is giving you a gift. Once you’re done feeling insulted, ask for a meeting with your boss. Tell your boss that the performance review made you think about your role. You want to understand how you can become an asset to the team. Being an asset means that you bring value to the team. Find out exactly what you can do and how you can adapt to your team’s needs and boss’s management style. In addition, find a mentor who can guide you through this period. If you just can’t work in this environment, find a new team. But don’t be so quick to run.

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