Getting fired is often a pretty awful, humiliating experience.
In some cases, the dismissal looms on the horizon for some time before it happens. Other times, it strikes as fast as a lightning bolt.
No one likes to think about getting fired, but it’s important to consider the possibility. There are definitely a few clear indicators that your job is at risk.
Here are some key signs that you’re about to be sacked:
1. Your instincts are telling you something’s wrong
Trust your gut.
“If you feel you’ve done everything you can, but still have that ‘I might get fired’ feeling, you’re probably right, and it’s likely time to move on,” Andy Bailey of business coaching service Petra Coach says. “You may be an ‘A’ player, but it might have to be somewhere else. Begin seeking out other positions that better reflect your personality and work ethic.”
Ketti Salemme of TINYPulse, an employee survey product, says that it’s important not to disregard your own instincts.
“Sometimes the sign can be nothing more than a gut feeling,” Salemme says. “Whether it be a shift in the company culture, your job duties, or your relationship with colleagues, this can be indicative enough that you may soon be let go.”
2. You’ve gotten some terrible performance reviews
Leah Machado, a director at Paychex, Inc. — a payroll and HR outsourcing company — says that a number of different factors typically snowball into a firing.
Here’s one obvious sign: Your boss tells you that you haven’t been doing stellar work.
“Any sign that you’re not meeting performance expectations — verbal, written, or otherwise — should be an indicator that you need to change your actions, behaviours, and results, as well as develop the competencies and skills to combat those identified shortcomings,” Machado says.
Lynn Taylor, a workplace expert and the author of “Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behaviour and Thrive in Your Job,” notes that formal warnings are never good news.
“You may have received a verbal warning, a written warning, and maybe even a second written warning,” says Taylor.
If you’ve received one, know that more bad news may be coming your way.
3. Communication has broken down
Employee success depends on effective communication. Enterprise software company BetterWorks CEO Kris Duggan notes that interpersonal relationships in the office also rely on effectively communicating successes and failures to your boss.
“For a manager, there’s nothing worse than being asked to jump in on something in the eleventh hour when an employee has been saying ‘I got this’ for weeks,” Duggan says. “Clue them in right away.”
4. You’re out of the loop
People used to listen up when you gave your perspective on the topic at hand. Now, you get the feeling that you’re not being heard.
TopResume career expert Amanda Augustine says that not being included in important discussions is a red flag.
“Not being invited to one meeting isn’t cause for concern,” Augustine says. “However, if you’re repeatedly left off email threads or meeting invites, you have cause for alarm. This might be a sign that you’re being phased out.”
5. Your job has become impossible
If you feel like your job has become overwhelming all of a sudden, you might have a terrible manager — or the organisation may be intentionally trying to shed you, according to Mike Kerr, an international business speaker and author of “The Humour Advantage.”
“You’re being set up to fail,” Kerr says. “Sometimes this is due to lousy leadership, but occasionally it can be because a company wants to get rid of you, but they need solid evidence to do so, and setting you up for disaster is one way of getting the ‘proof’ you longer belong there.”
6. Your relationship with your boss has deteriorated
Some managers have a less warm and friendly style, but you should definitely be concerned if things have gotten tense all of a sudden.
“These days, your manager sees you filling that coffee cup and basically leaves the zone with only a brief nod and minimal eye contact. Feeling the ice every time you see your superior?” says Nora Heer, cofounder of Loopline Systems — a company that deals with HR solutions. “This could be a sign you’re about to be let go. Even the most professional and socially capable people tend to avoid situations that are uncomfortable — and firing someone is never easy.”
7. Your licence to spend has been revoked
Robert Dilenschneider, author of “50 Plus!: Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life,” notes that any reduction in spending authority is a bad sign.
“Increased scrutiny is a phenomenon that is rarely initiated by the accounting department,” Dilenschneide says. “The boss believes that you have wasted time or inflated expenses. Even if you are 100% innocent, it doesn’t matter. Find out if you are the only person being scrutinised.”
8. You have less work to do
This one’s a pretty major warning sign. The fact is, your manager doesn’t want a ton of loose ends to deal with after you’re gone.
Heer says that a sudden reduction in workload is an especially dire sign if your requests for more work go unanswered.
“Asking for more work, but hearing crickets in response?” Heer says. “This might be a sign your exit is coming.”
9. You have a new boss
Steve Hunt of SAP SuccessFactors, which provides cloud solutions for HR, says that a change in leadership is especially risky for one certain type of worker — executives.
“When CEOs and other high level executives are brought into an organisation from the outside they are often hired to change things,” Hunt says. “So if you are on an executive team and your boss was just replaced by someone new from outside the company, then you may want to be prepared to be let go.”
10. You get sidestepped
Digital marketing firm YouthNoise’s Ajay Paghda notes that if you’re worried about getting fired, you should keep an eye out for potential replacements. If your supervisors start cross-training you with a subordinate, that might be a bad sign.
“This might be a sign that management is considering letting you go. They want the new employee to learn as much from you before they show you the door,” Paghdal says.
11. There’s recently been a merger
After a merger, it’s not uncommon for a company to make layoffs.
Salemme adds that employees should especially watch their backs during mergers. As redundant employees are rooted out, you might find yourself fired through no fault of your own.
“Sometimes it doesn’t come down to anything more than profitability and the acquiring company’s trust in its people,” Salemme told Business Insider.
12. You notice more gossip and strange behaviour from your coworkers or boss
“Your colleagues are avoiding you. The chatter around the water cooler goes quiet when you walk by,” Augustine says. “Your coworkers stop inviting you to lunch.”
Do your coworkers seem to scurry away anytime you get close? That may be a subtle hint that something’s up (or maybe they just hate you).
13. Teamwork isn’t your strong suit
It’s important to fit into the company’s culture. That means taking one for the team, sometimes, as HR consultant Laurie Ruettimann told Reader’s Digest: “If we ask you to travel for your job or attend a conference, it’s not really a question. Say no, and it can be career-ending.”
Jacquelyn Smith contributed to a previous version of this article.
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