Signs You May Be Asked To Leave Soon
If you're sensing a change in attitude from your boss lately and aren't sure just what to make of it, the tips in Natasha Bowman's blog below may help identify what is happening and what you can do about it.
Has your boss been sending you signals lately? A cold shoulder in the hallway, an unreturned phone call, a sudden influx of critical feedback. As an isolated incident, you could chalk any one of these up to a bad day. But if you’ve noticed a pattern beginning to develop, you just might be on the cusp of an unhappy meeting with human resources.
As a career coach and human resources professional, I often get calls from clients who have noticed a drastic change in their manager's behavior toward them and wonder if it's a sign they may be asked to leave soon. Most bosses are bad at hiding their intentions, and many times my clients are correct in their assessment.
Here are five things to look out for that may be able to get you out in front of their decision. You may not be able to save your job, but at least you may save yourself an unexpected midday walk of shame through the office.
1. Your boss grows distant … or not.
When an employee is targeted for termination, my observations are that most managers react in one of two ways.
Some bosses will dissociate. They’ll write the employee off and begin to act as if they no longer exist. Friendly greetings in the hall will go by the wayside. That standing weekly lunch date? You can kiss that goodbye as well.
Others will grow closer. On some level, they’ll want to console the person in advance. In that case, you can expect a few more friendly greetings in the hallway and random “pop-ins” to shoot the breeze about non-work related issues.
2. Communication goes digital.
For bosses with a penchant for dissociation, personal communication will tend to go digital. They still need to communicate with you, but they’ll prefer to do so in pixel rather than in person. They may be doing this to create documentation of your poor performance. In an increasingly litigious corporate environment, the last thing an employer needs is a wrongful termination suit.
If you find yourself communicating primarily by email, take a closer look at the content of those emails. Do you find yourself on the defensive, having to explain more than usual? If so, someone may be making a case for letting you go.
3. Tiny details start to matter a whole lot more than usual.
Effective managers strive to help their employees grow in their skills, so a more critical eye on your work isn't always the harbinger of doom. But what about when micromanagement shifts from constructive guidance to destructive criticism?
If you suddenly find your boss ensconced in the details of your everyday work, ask yourself what he or she is doing. Are they offering helpful support or just trying to tear you down? If the latter, someone may be trying to build a case for your termination.
4. You get cut out of the loop.
The savvy manager will always put her best people on the company’s most important projects. What might it say, then, when you find yourself not-so-subtly removed from major client meetings, conference calls and strategic planning sessions?
If you find yourself being systematically excluded from important conversations, you just might have proof that you’ve become a persona non grata in the eyes of management. It’s time to start planning your transition.
5. True development opportunities start to dry up.
Have you been denied the resources to attend a professional development seminar next month? Has your immediate supervisor rejected your request to participate in the company’s next leadership development workshop? If so, you might be on your way out. After all, why invest in an employee who’s on her way out the door?
Paradoxically, you might find yourself on the receiving end of additional on-the-job training. Only this training won’t be in leadership or technical skill building. Instead, you’ll be learning basic teamwork and inter-office communication. This may be another sign to start packing your desk.
What do you do next?
You’ve sensed that something is amiss at work and after reading these signs, you’re convinced your boss has it in for you.
Before you do anything, breathe. Your current job may be coming to an end, but that doesn’t mean your career is over. That said, it’s time to get proactive.
Here are a few important steps to take:
1. Solidify existing work relationships.
If you’re about to find yourself out on the job market, then you’ll need a handful of glowing references from your previous employer. Your boss may no longer be the best option for a reference, so look for others within the organization to help tout your achievements.
2. Update your resume.
Don’t wait until you’re out the door to start preparing yourself for the upcoming job hunt.
3. Start looking for a new job.
There’s nothing disloyal about testing the waters outside your current organization. If you have a genuine reason to believe you’re on the chopping block, the wisest thing you can do is to start looking for a safe place to land afterward.
4. Talk to your boss.
Have a frank conversation with your immediate supervisor about your current performance and the organization’s needs. Ask for honest feedback. If it seems there’s no way to rectify the situation, propose a transition period. That way, your boss will have plenty of time to find your replacement and you’ll have the time you need to find a new job.
5. Document everything.
Hold on to every word of approval or accolade you’ve ever received. Especially in the event of wrongful termination, having concrete evidence of your strong work performance will only help your cause.
Take these signs not as a curse, but as a blessing — an opportunity to get ahead of what’s to come and to start looking for an employer who will appreciate all that you have to offer. So when it’s all said and done, you’ll be able to march into your boss’s office (and leave it) with your head held high.