6 Signs Your Boss Wants To Fire You—Are You In Trouble?
Should you be updating your resume any time soon?
In one of my old jobs, I had a coworker—let’s call her Vanessa—who was fired for seemingly no other reason than the fact that my boss didn’t like her. There was nothing wrong with Vanessa’s performance, but there was something in her attitude that just rubbed our manager the wrong way.
Most of us knew that our manager didn’t like Vanessa, but when we found out that she was laid off, we were all shocked. However, if we had paid a little more attention, we may have been able to see the signs. Signs your boss wants to fire you, are sometimes quite evident.
In the weeks leading up to Vanessa’s termination, our boss seemed to be sending out some feelers to get more people to back up his desire to fire Vanessa. He’d ask what we thought of Vanessa and her work ethic. He called Vanessa to several meetings with HR to discuss her tardiness (note that other people on the team were also guilty of being regularly late, but they weren’t called to similar meetings). Finally, our manager put her on a performance improvement plan. Two weeks later, Vanessa was clearing her desk.
These are some common behaviours that bosses do when they’re thiiiis close to firing an employee. If you notice your own boss doing any of these things, you either have to step up your game or start polishing your LinkedIn profile. Signs your boss wants to fire you may be more evident than you've previously thought.
Here are signs your boss wants to fire you:
1. Your manager starts emailing you more
Your boss used to discuss things with you in person or over the phone, but now she’s switched to communicating with you via email. Why? Either your boss has simply realised that emailing is a more efficient use of her time, or she’s documenting your correspondences so she can build a case against you with HR.
One indication that your boss is creating a paper trail is when he or she starts detailing your errors over email. For example, your boss could write, “I asked you last August 24 to correct this, but have not seen any improvement.” If the so-called infraction is embellished or blown out of proportion, correct your boss (respectfully) in a reply copying HR.
2. Your boss suddenly starts acting strangely towards you
If you notice that your boss’s personality has changed almost overnight, this may be an indication that your job is in jeopardy. Your boss might appear more cold, keeping your conversations short and curt. You might even start to notice your boss avoiding any interactions with you just to avoid the awkwardness. It’s not a great way to deal with conflict, but it’s still pretty typical behaviour.
3. Your company’s been having some financial troubles
If you’ve heard that your company has been struggling to hit profit goals or break even, this could put jobs at risk. As soon as you hear about concerning news like this, ask your manager how it will affect you so you can plan accordingly.
4. Your performance review comes back more criticism-filled than usual
If your performance review comes back with absolutely no positive feedback, then that’s probably a cause for worry. Your boss might not have made the decision yet, but he or she could seriously be considering your termination.
5. You’re put on a performance improvement plan
Ideally, a performance improvement plan is used to correct an employee’s bad habits, but that’s not often the case. “Instead of a Performance Improvement Plan, it should be called This is the First Step Toward Firing You Plan, because that is what's happening,” writes Forbes contributor Liz Rio.
Many managers use it to demonstrate that they did everything they could to help, but this employee just could not learn. If you’re ever put on a performance improvement plan, see if the goals are quantifiable, achievable, and relevant to your job. If not, your boss probably has another agenda.
6. You’re taken out of the loop
Have you noticed that you’re no longer copied on important emails? Maybe your boss has started assigning your work to others. You could even be asked to train someone to do your job. If you feel like you’re being made more and more obsolete, then you should start looking around for other opportunities.
Signs your boss wants to fire you may also be creative, if you have one do comment!