Target for Termination or Just Paranoid?

Many people are constantly stressed in fear that they may be terminated while others are completely blindsided when they are.  Termination is not a process that happens overnight.  It takes some time to get the paperwork ready and coordinate the necessary parties (i.e. HR, IT, Security, etc.).  If you are paranoid that you are on the chopping block or feel that you are untouchable, here are some typical signs that you may be marked for termination (aside from obvious major wrongdoing on your part, of course).

Has Your Area of Control Been Reduced? Any departmental restructuring in which you no longer have the same authority as before can be a sign that you’re getting ousted.  If your manager tells you s/he’s reassigning some of your responsibilities to another
employee to “lighten your load”, don’t fall for it especially if the tasks taken are the ones with the most clout.  It’s usually a diplomatic way for your manager to say s/he no longer believes you can do the job.

Have You Been Left Out of Key Meetings and Decisions? If you are respected and accomplished, you are often asked for your opinion or assigned related projects.  So when
you’re suddenly no longer asked to weigh in on key issues in these areas, it may signify that your coworkers don’t see you as an asset or you’ve become a barrier to the end game and they’d prefer to segregate you from their team or project.

Are You Being Treated Like a Telemarketer Calling During Dinner?  Not being
able to get approval for your strategy, individual projects or budget can indicate that your peers or superiors no longer support you.  It shows you’re not in tune with your colleagues or your company’s needs.  Or worse, it could hint that your secret successor has been chosen.

Do You Have to Constantly Struggle to Get Anything Done?  If coworkers are always arguing with you in meetings and they either don’t listen to or rebuff your ideas with no fear of reprimand or appearing disrespectful, it may indicate that you are being phased out or being set up to fail.

Does Your Supervisor Minimize Your Accomplishments?  If you’re doing back flips and your peers are apathetic at best (if they even acknowledge your efforts), that may be cause for concern.  It shows a complete lack of respect and that your colleagues don’t see what you’re doing as worthwhile or they sense that you will not be around for too much longer.

Does Your Boss Ask You to Work On “Special Projects”?  Special projects are a euphemism for busy work.  When you’re assigned to special projects only, it usually means that the boss has lost confidence in your ability to lead. For example, if you are asked to work on a special project involving Eastern European markets but the company has no plans for expansion into Eastern Europe in the near future.  This is a sign that you are in line to be thanked for coming out and let go.

Did You See a Confidential Search Ad That Describes Your Job to a Tee?  You see (or worse a friend notices) a job posted on an online website that describes your job exactly in a company that sounds suspiciously like yours.

Are People Avoiding You At All Costs?  Eye-contact is difficult to make with someone if you know his or her head is on the chopping block.  If people are no longer doing that fun “stop ‘n’ chat” in the hall or the coffee room empties or suddenly quiets down to an awkward silence when you enter, then guess what?…you may just be marked for termination.

Are You Being Given Impossible Jobs With No Chance Of Success?  This
one is underhanded; which is why it’s so popular.  You are being set up for failure.  The company needs a legitimate reason to give you the boot, especially if you’ve done everything right and are the key to your team.  Enter the impossible project.  Failure is an open door to the world of unemployment.

Has Your Office, Cubicle or Working Space Recently Been Downsized?  When
employees are in the firing line, it’s a lot easier to move them around and downsize their environment without worrying about their morale.  If you are reading this in your new 6ft by 6ft cubicle with no lights on a 5 year old PC with a 200MB hard drive and dot matrix printer to match, you’re not exactly a valued employee any more.

Are You Noticing Paper Trails Between Yourself and Your Superiors?  Suddenly, you now notice everything is happening via emails instead of casual conversations.  There’s a reason for that. HR requires written/printed evidence of everything if there’s to be a firing.  A paper trail is necessary to determine that your manager did everything by the book, and to record every single one of your screw-ups.  So, if you’ve gone from getting a few emails per week, to a daily deluge of paper and a full inbox, these are warning signs that you’re being watched very closely.

While any of these actions are no guarantee that you are being targeted for termination (so don’t go quitting your job so fast), you should still be aware of the signs so you can be prepared.  You may even be able to fix the problems without being fired.

These are just a sampling of warning signs.  For more details, check out our book
“Employee Rights and Employer Wrongs: How to Identify Employee Abuse and How to
Stand Up For Yourself” available for purchase on our website or Amazon.


About Suzanne

Suzanne Kleinberg is a Toronto based career coach and author who has provided consulting services to corporations, not-for-profit organizations and individual clients. With a B.A. in Economics from York University, Masters in Project Management and PMP certification, Kleinberg is an avid ‘career changer’, having worked in a variety of fields that include stock brokerage, advertising, television production, financial and IT. In 2010, Kleinberg founded Potential to Soar, a unique career and talent coaching service wherein she guides new graduates, seasoned professionals and corporations, small and large, through private coaching, customized workshops and psychometric assessment tools. Kleinberg’s books include Employee Rights and Employer Wrongs, an everyman’s guide to navigating the complex world of labour and employment law, It’s All About the Elizabeths, which introduces financial management to teens, and From Playstation to Workstation, aimed at youth starting their careers. From Playstation® to Workstation is available in paperback via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and her website,
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