Most of the time you’re buried in your work, attempting to get to the bottom of a long to-do list. Your daily effort is focused on doing our best work. You want to do well. You want to get ahead. But one day, you begin to notice that things are different. You may not be able to put your finger on what’s changed, but there are some subtle things going on that are causing you anxiety. You ask yourself, “Is it possible that I’m going to be fired?”
Once that question pops into your mind, you may immediately dismiss it, but then you find that you can’t ignore it and you begin to look for evidence that this may be true.
If you have a sneaking suspicion that you might be in danger of getting fired, here are five signs to look out for:
1. Your boss’s behavior towards you has changed.
Maybe you never had a stellar relationship with your boss, but you can’t help but notice that now he/she has become more distant. No eye contact. You rarely even get the cordial “good morning’ that you used to hear. He/she doesn’t come near your office or desk and no longer asks you questions or wants to know your opinion. You’ve become invisible. This avoidance is typical when someone has something they don’t want to discuss with you. They figure if they avoid you, you won’t be able to ask them any questions.
2. You’re not invited to meetings.
In the past, you would be invited to many meetings in your department and company-wide. Now you notice that though the meetings continue, you are no longer asked to attend. When you ask why, the responses are vague. No one will give you a clear answer. They may respond that they were given the list of invitees by someone else and have no idea why you haven’t been invited. Another sign that you’re becoming invisible.
3. You’re no longer on the email chain.
Previously, you have been copied on emails that have circulated across your department or company. Who took you off the list? No one seems to know or acknowledge it’s an issue.
4. You have fewer responsibilities and no new projects.
You were always asked to train the new person in the department and now your colleague is doing it. You aren’t getting any new projects, just busy work that lacks any sort of deadline or importance. When you ask about new projects and why you now have less to do, you never get a straight answer.
5. Your boss goes directly to your direct reports and circumvents you.
This is a clear sign that you are no longer considered relevant. Once your direct reports have to answer directly to your boss, you are out of the picture. Face it.
What can you do about this?
1. First, set up a meeting with your boss and ask important questions head on.
They may try to avoid you but hold them accountable for scheduling a meeting and ask direct questions about what’s going on. It may be uncomfortable for both of you, but it’s much better to find out what’s going on than remain in the dark.
2. Set up a meeting with HR.
Communicate your concerns and seek advice on how to move forward.
3. Reach out to trusted colleagues for information.
Now is the time to ask any allies you may have about what they might have heard about you and your position.
4. Reach out to your external network and begin to look for new opportunities.
Even if you aren’t immediately going to be let go, none of these subtle signs work in your favor. You want to be in an organization where you can showcase your skills.
5. Put a list of your accomplishments together and work on your resume.
Be proactive and find a company that will support your best efforts to be successful.
It’s always better to be proactive and look for a job when you have a job!
Bonnie Marcus, M.Ed, is an executive coach, author and keynote speaker focused on women's advancement in the workplace. A former corporate executive and CEO, Bonnie is the author of The Politics of Promotion: How High Achieving Women Get Ahead and Stay Ahead, and co-author of Lost Leaders in the Pipeline: Capitalizing on Women's Ambition to Offset the Future Leadership Shortage.