Scott Samuels, CEO of Horizon Hospitality – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices and Brian Binke, CEO of The Birmingham Group – A member of the Sanford Rose Associates® network of offices Featured in The Wall Street Journal, How to Know When You’re on Thin Ice at Work

Plano, TX 10/26/2017

By Gary M. Stern

It starts with an uneasy feeling: You’re left out of meetings you used to attend. The boss stops offering suggestions. Once-friendly colleagues turn cool.

How can you be the last one to know you’re failing or flailing at work?

Scott Samuels sensed trouble when his supervisor stopped giving him feedback during a previous job as a general manager of a new outlet for a food retailer. He also found himself left out of important meetings. He later realized he hadn’t understood exactly how his performance would be evaluated.

He says he was striving to build revenue and keep customers and employees satisfied. But senior managers were intent on posting short-term profits, and “in order to move up and get promoted, one of your primary roles was to make your boss look good. It was sort of a shocking experience,” says Mr. Samuels, founder and chief executive of Horizon Hospitality Associates, an Overland Park, Kan., executive-placement firm.

People often rationalize their failings by benchmarking their job performance against mediocre peers, rather than stars, saying, “I’m not that bad. Look at Joey over there,” says Brian Binke, president of the Birmingham Group, a Berkley, Mich., affiliate of the Sanford Rose Associates executive-search network.

And peers are often the first to see the writing on the wall, he says. Like many managers, Mr. Binke has hesitated to fire poor performers in the past, worrying that it would upset other employees. But when he finally pulls the trigger, Mr. Binke says, the reaction from peers is often, “What took you so long?”

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