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13 signs you’re close to getting fired, according to experts

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Gary Ogden
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20 signs you're extremely close to getting fired

Having a job is great, but not having one is rubbish. I have found this to be true in almost all cases - the exception being when you are a small child, and should resolutely not have a job. But as an adult - like I am, if you can believe it - you should probably have one, because you’ve gotta pay your way in this cruel world somehow. 

Only thing is, you’ve actually got to try hard in the office if you want to keep it - you can’t just spend all day sitting in the toilet playing with your whip and top or whatever it is the youngsters do nowadays.

As such, those that don’t pull their weight end up getting the chop - it’s an unfortunate side-effect of joining the rat race. Hopefully, this lacking employee is not you, but there’s a small chance it might be - as such, Lynn Taylor, a national workplace expert and the author of Tame Your Terrible Office Tyrant: How to Manage Childish Boss Behavior and Thrive in Your Job and Business Insider pulled together a list of early-warning signs that may mean you’re about to get pied off.

Essentially, if you notice any of the following things happening, it’s probably best you start looking elsewhere pretty sharpish:

1. You receive a bad performance review

I mean, this one may seem pretty obvious, but people get complacent, and nobody cares about anything anymore. A bad performance review isn’t just a telling-off, it’s a warning to pull both thumbs out and buck up your ideas, buster. Taylor says:

“Your employer needs to create a paper trail, so along with warnings, your employer will use a performance review to document the problem areas.”

What’s more, there are specific phrases to look out for that may signal a more serious problem with your work. They include: “You’re not a good fit for our culture,” “You’re not a team player,” “Your personality or style doesn’t seem to mesh with the team,” or “You have a major attitude problem.”

Those, coupled with repeatedly bad performance reviews, signal it’s time to whack out that dusty CV and get applying elsewhere.

2. You’re left out of the loop

If you start getting sidelined from meetings and emails or it’s hard to access important data, then you might be being phased out. Michael Kerr, author of The Humor Advantage, says:

“There could be other reasons for this happening, but certainly one may be that your leadership has lost the trust or confidence in your abilities, making you vulnerable when and if layoffs happen.”

So if you find your input on key decisions seemingly disappearing, then it might be time to get that life-jacket out.

3. Your job has become mission impossible

“When you first assumed the role, you had your marching orders and could accomplish them. Now it seems that you’re tasked with projects akin to climbing Mount Everest blindfolded,” says Taylor.

Kerr says:

“You’re being set up to fail. 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.”

4. Your relationship with your boss has deteriorated

Whereas before you would high five in the kitchen and kiss in the broom closet, now it’s all tense and awkward whenever you’re in there. Kerr says:

“Once your relationship has deteriorated to the point of being toxic, then how your boss treats you — from ignoring you to publicly berating you — can be obvious signs that your job might be in peril.”

5. You’re asked to provide detailed reports about time or expenses

Robert Dilenschneider, author of 50 Plus!: Critical Career Decisions for the Rest of Your Life, says:

“Increased scrutiny is a phenomenon that is rarely initiated by the accounting department. 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 scrutinized.” Or: your boss is on your case all the bloody time, basically.

So, I’m sorry, but that hovercraft you claimed on expenses to “get to meetings on time” might be coming back to bite you in the arse, actually.

6. Fewer projects are coming your way

If you’re not getting the big, important projects anymore, and you find yourself making more and more teas for everybody, then it’s a tell-tale sign you might be about to drop off the edge of a big cliff. Taylor says:

“As you try to secure normal work, it seems it’s hard to get cooperation from your boss and other managers. They’re suddenly making your work life difficult.”

7. Your perks start to evaporate

Dilenschneider says:

“Your colleagues are all sent to a conference in Marrakesh, but you aren’t invited. You are told to fly coach after years of flying business class. Suddenly, you lose your corner office and are relocated to the bullpen. Perks are an important part of the job, and if you sense yours are being eroded, you have every right to worry.”

Essentially: no more access to the hovercraft, apols.

8. You’re no longer praised for your work

If you’re on your way out, then your boss isn’t going to be scruffing your hair and giving you Haribo every Friday.  “To do so would run contrary to the campaign underway to remove you from the company,” explains Taylor, so look out for a lack of appreciation round the workplace, regardless of how many teas you make, tea-boy.

9. You’ve received a pay cut or been asked to take time off

Again, this is a pretty obvious one. If you’ve been asked to take sometime off and you swan off to Butlin’s without a care in the world, then you’re resting far to heavily on those laurels of yours. Kerr says:

“This is a major sign that things aren’t well, even if it’s under the guise of being what’s ‘best for you’. It’s the equivalent of a dating couple ‘taking a break for a while’ — and we all know how that usually ends.”

10. You notice more gossip and strange behavior from your coworkers

Taylor says:

“Oftentimes when coworkers hear rumors about someone being fired or even reprimanded, they stay away to avoid ‘guilt by association’.” So you’ve either got a bunch of knives being thrust into your back by your co-workers, or they’ve all been replaced by aliens - in which case, I don’t think your job is of the utmost importance.

11. You report to new or more people

If you find yourself reporting to more junior people or more managers in a matrix environment, then get your Worry Hat on, quick-smart. Taylor says:

“There’s more red tape and bureaucracy whereas before you could get your work done in a streamlined way.”

The same applies if your boss goes directly to your subordinates.

“Most organizations have a chain of command, and when it is disrupted, it is a clear indication that you are no longer needed,” says Dilenschneider.

12. There was a recent merger, but little information.

After a big merger (a terrifying word if there ever was one), there’s always the chance that a company will make a bunch of layoffs - it’s just the way the proverbial cookie proverbially crumbles. Taylor says:

“If you’re feeling that your job was at risk already, then a merger could put the nail on the proverbial coffin.” Unfortunately, it might be time to jump the proverbial ship. Proverbially.

13. Your instincts are telling you something’s wrong

Much like Spider-Man knows when something is wrong, you may find yourself feeling peculiar about a situation, and that gut feeling can often be right on the money.

Andy Bailey of business coaching service Petra Coach says:

“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. 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, also reiterates that it’s important to rely on your stomach now and again:

“Sometimes the sign can be nothing more than a gut feeling. 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.”

***

So, what can we learn from this? Well, in your case, every single one of those 13 points apply to you, which means you’re definitely getting fired. Sorry, but that’s the way it goes - if you can’t cut the mustard, then get a sharper knife. If the heat in the kitchen is too hot to handle, then get the fuck outta the greenhouse, Wally. If you’re blaming your tools, then a word to the wise: accidents will happen, and all that glisters is not gold, so a nod’s as good as a wink to a blind horse.

To break it down into easy-to-understand terms: a swarm in May is worth a load of hay; a swarm in June is worth a silver spoon; but a swarm in July is not worth a fly.

(Image: iStock)

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Gary Ogden

Shortlist writer and "the least woke person in the office", Gary Ogden, likes horror movies, Cheestrings, tapping his leg under the desk, "having a drink", PDAs, not having eczema anymore, hiding from responsibility, screaming into the mirror whenever he is alone, and assorted other things. Mainly the eczema thing though. @garyblogden

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