Five Signs Your Boss Wants To Fire You

One of the most important things every working person must learn is that not every manager deserves your talents.

There are great mentors in the business world and there are other managers who are not qualified to shine your shoes. You have to be able to tell the difference. Sometimes we only learn that a person’s degrees and work experience have little connection to his or her maturity and professionalism when they stab us in the back!

If you are smart and capable, some managers will be ecstatic and others will become fearful and hostile. These fearful managers don’t want smart and capable people around them. It intimidates them when they are not the Queen Bee or the master and commander of the department.

They will cut you down with cruel comments to let you know who’s boss. They will thunder at you for insignificant things, and take other steps to try to knock you off-balance.

All the while you’ll have no idea what you did to bring your manager’s wrath down upon you. You didn’t do anything wrong. You just showed up in the wrong department and did your job a little too well for your fearful manager’s taste. Maybe you weren’t quite as docile and deferential as your boss wanted you to be. That’s enough to put a big target on your back.

Here are five signs your boss wants you out and will take the opportunity to fire you the first chance they get.

Your Reporting Relationship Changes for No Reason

Unless your boss is the CEO, he or she is likely to need a higher-up manager’s approval before terminating you. Sneaky, bad bosses will engineer a role or title change that seems harmless to you but is actually intended to make the higher-up boss aware of your manager’s “concerns” about your performance.

Here’s how that works. Your manager tells you out of the clear blue sky, “Jacob, I’m going to have you report to Elizabeth, because I don’t have time to work closely with you.” You say, “That’s fine.” It’s no big deal. Elizabeth is much more empathetic and much smarter than your boss is, anyway.

However, your boss told her boss something much different. She told her boss that she had to put you under Elizabeth because you’re failing so badly in your job. The insignificant change to the organizational chart is a cover for your fearful boss. It is the first step in your manager’s plan to paint you as a poor performer and ease you out the door.

Your Manager Will Only Communicate With You Via Email

Why would a manager stop talking to you in person or over the phone, and put all of her communication with you in writing instead? They’ll do it if they want to create a “paper trail.” You can assume that all of your manager’s email messages are being copied to HR or to your boss’s boss when the face-to-face and telephone conversation disappear and suddenly the only way your manager will communicate with you is in writing.

Your Performance Review Is Delayed Without Explanation

Performance reviews get delayed for all kinds of reasons, but if you’re feeling the chill in the air and your performance review is also delayed with no explanation, be wary. Your manager is taking extra time and care with your performance review because your written appraisal is a critical part of her plan to terminate you for upsetting her with your competence.

You Are Sent To Training Classes You Don’t Need

Why did your manager sign you up for Basic Business Communication training along with Basic Project Management and another class called How To Be A Great Teammate? It’s all part of the plan to convince people who don’t know you that you are so lacking in business skills you need retraining. Now all your manager has to do to get a green light from HR for your termination is to tell them, “Sadly, the extra training didn’t help.”

They Bring HR Into The Conversation

The final sign that your boss wants you to disappear is when they bring HR into the conversation about your imaginary defects. You will find yourself invited to meetings in the HR department along with your manager, who will tell the HR people in the room, “I’ve been trying to hard to work with this employee, but I’ve run out of ideas.” Yeah, right! Your boss has no desire to continue working with you because she’s afraid of your growing flame, plain and simple.

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? First, don’t feel bad about yourself. The only reason your fearful boss is intimidated is because she is only comfortable working with low-flame people. She wants to have all the ideas and be the smartest reason in the room at all times.

There’s nothing wrong with you — you merely picked the wrong person to work for! Now you know. The next time you job-hunt, you’re going to pay very close attention to every conversation with your prospective boss.

You’re going to start a job search right now. Your highest priority is to get out of that toxic workplace. If your boss mentions the idea of letting you go, you can use this technique to negotiate a severance package on your way out. If you have the chance to meet privately with an HR person, tell them the truth.

Tell them that your boss has invented a story in which you are a problem employee, merely because he or she doesn’t want to work with you. HR can help you get a severance deal or even move into another department. As an HR person I have engineered dozens of similar moves, and with luck your HR team will have the savvy and mojo to make the same thing happen for you.

Either way, as difficult as this situation is, your muscles will be growing! Now you’ll know how to avoid a fearful boss in the future and you’ll be more likely to spot a weak manager before you accept a job in his or her department. That’s the key. As I said before (and it bears repeating) not every manager deserves your talents!