Tech & Work

Signs you're about to be fired

Here are a few behaviors to look for in your boss that may indicate your job is in danger.

Having been through a multitude of corporate reorgs and buyouts, I will admit to being a little gun-shy.

Unfortunately, I am the type to preemptively panic at an email announcing a company-wide meeting or if the folks from our parent office drop in for a visit. It would not be out of the ordinary to hear me, or one of my equally paranoid colleagues, say, "I know the VP said we were doing a great job but did you notice how his voice trailed off?" Yeah, we're that annoying.

Therefore, I'm always a little surprised when people say they didn't see it coming when they were fired. (I'm not talking about layoffs — those things are almost always done in triple-secret stealth mode and hit you like a silent freight train.) I'm talking about being let go due to performance problems. So I've created a few tips for what to watch for that may be a sign that your job is in jeopardy (if your boss hasn't directly told you).

Subtle changes in your boss's behavior

Be sensitive to these changes, but not obsessed with them. After all, there could be something else weighing on your boss's mind. In other words, don't throw yourself on the boss's desk and cry, "You don't like me anymore!" However, if it seems like he or she isn't being as friendly as usual, something might be up.

  • If he doesn't drop by your cubicle to shoot the breeze but spends a lot of time with your co-workers, it might mean he's pulling away a little.
  • If you find that several of your meetings with him are being canceled, it could be an avoidance tactic on his part.
  • If he is asking for constant feedback as to your progress on particular projects, it could mean that you've shown him you can't be completely trusted with a project, or he might be building a case in regards to your performance. Pay attention if the boss has suddenly become a micromanager, but only when it comes to you.
  • If your boss and you used to have a fairly informal relationship where you could gripe about some parts of your job, but suddenly he has begun to agree with your complaints and suggest that you might find another job more conducive, your present job could in danger.


Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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