You know the feeling when you a guest somewhere that you have overstayed your welcome? Ever experienced the same chilly but subtle get-out-of-here vibe in your workplace?
Firing people is a lot of paperwork for managers and HR departments. It also comes with the risk of litigation especially of the firing was done under shady circumstances. So what your boss might do is ‘encourage’ you to quit on your volition.
The start sending unspoken messages and change their behavior towards you. The hope is that you will feel uncomfortable enough to quit before they have to fire you.
It would be the terrible thing to be caught unawares. Knowing how to read the signs your boss wants you to quit will help you get ready for what’s coming. You can start reaching out to professional resume writers to polish your resume or you could seek legal advice to help you retain your job or seek compensation in case you are fired.
When they want you gone, the first step a bad manager usually takes is to minimize your contribution to the company. No matter how much work you do and how well you do it, they will take every effort to make you look like an underperformer.
They’ll stop acknowledging your work, either burying it or even worse, attribute it to others or themselves. This can be particularly frustrating when you are a hard worker and high performer.
But that’s exactly what they are hoping for; that you will feel frustrated and disheartened enough to quit.
Some bosses may go to the extent of saying negative things about you sometimes in front of your colleagues and other times behind your back. They want other people in the company to have a bad opinion of you too.
With negative vibe coming from everyone around you, the pressure to quit can be great. Things can get worse if they badmouth you to the higher ups, making sure there is no one to praise your work.
For some bosses it is not enough to lie that you are underperforming, they will also make it seem like you are not hitting your goals.
They give you bigger responsibilities with unachievable deadlines and unrealistic goals. They know that no matter how hard you work, you are inevitably going to fail.
If you find yourself being given a bigger portfolio without any extra help or training, be careful. If your boss suddenly begins to demand quicker turnarounds and bigger achievements, watch out.
Their goal could be one of two: either force you to quit out of shame or create a reason to fire you.
As the inevitable failures stack up – missed deadlines, fewer sales, etc. – you even begin to doubt yourself. Most employees will willingly quit when they feel like a failure. That’s what your boss is hoping for.
Another goal your boss may have in mind when giving you more responsibilities is to burn you out. With more work, you have to stay up late, arrive early and spend your weekends working. They are hoping the added pressure will cause a burnout and you’ll quit.
If other employees are not under similar pressure to perform, it’s a red flag that your boss wants you out.
If you don’t get the message quickly enough, your boss could begin to slowly cut you off from the company.
Experts have known for years that a big aspect of employee motivation is the feeling of belonging. The idea of a cohesive work family makes employees work harder and better. Things like meetings, corporate get together, and company retreats all serve to enhance this cohesion.
When your boss begins to ice you out of these activities, you are going to feel like you don’t belong. They will give you assignments on the same day everyone is going to the company picnic. More commonly, you will hear about major meetings after they have already happened.
Your boss is hoping that, even though you still have an office and get a salary, you no longer belong to the company. He or she is cutting you out of core company activities and processes, essentially turning you into a stranger to the goings-on at the firm.
Inevitably, you will consider quitting and find another company where you will feel you are a part of something.
One other sign you may notice is that you no longer talk face to face with your boss. In fact, they will proceed to extreme lengths to avoid you. In some cases, employees have even been shifted to out-of-the-way offices where you don’t interact with anyone important in the company.
Any communication from your boss is done virtually via email or chat. They may claim to be too busy if you request face to face or insist on virtual communication only.
The worst case scenario is if the manager begins to cut you out of important communication. You realize something important was communicated to other employees but not you. If it happens repeatedly, you can be sure they don’t want you there.
The most potent of all signs is bringing on a new hire or someone from another department. The new colleague is given responsibilities closely mirroring yours. You may even be instructed to train them.
Soon you find yourself with nothing to do. All the important responsibilities are shifted away, leaving you feeling quite useless and unimportant. Most people tend to quit soon after. After all, many employees thrive on the knowledge that they are contributing something important to the company.
The value of looking out for the signs is that you will have time to consider your options. Do you quit, do you confront the boss or do you hunker down and pretend there is nothing unusual going on?
I'm a 40-something senior executive in the tech industry who's personally hired more than 100 people. I also sit on the board of a leading recruiting/headhunter agency.
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