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It’s not your imagination. You could be seeing signs your boss wants you to leave your job if you’re being kept out of the loop or you’re no longer getting new opportunities to grow.
It’s normal for workloads and processes to change “but there should be a conversation that goes along with it,” says Jim Kelly, a career coach based in the Philadelphia area. He launched his coaching firm Next Level Coaching after spending 14 years in the banking industry. “If that conversation isn't happening, that's more of a red flag.”
Here’s a closer look at the kinds of behavior that might signal your boss wants you to quit, according to career experts.
1. You’re excluded from meetings
If you have regular status meetings with upper management and suddenly you’re not part of those any more, that would be a red flag, Kelly says.
While fewer meetings can be a relief, the problem lies in being kept out of conversations on projects you’re part of or losing opportunities to have face-to-face interactions with people who make decisions about your career.
2. You’re left off important emails
Similar to being excluded from meetings, if you find out important email discussions are happening without you, that could be another signal. Those emails could be directly related to work in which you’re a key stakeholder or more social email chains that you’d usually be part of.
3. You stop getting new assignments
New assignments provide an opportunity to learn new skills and demonstrate the value you add to your workplace. When you’re not assigned new work (when you usually would be), it could be a red flag that your boss isn’t seeing your potential or investing in your growth.
4. Your work is reassigned
This signal goes a step beyond not getting new work assigned. If your existing responsibilities are removed, and you’re not getting anything new added to your plate, it could be a sign your boss wants you to leave.
5. You’re getting a cold shoulder from your boss
Perhaps you’ve noticed that a once-friendly supervisor is still chummy with other coworkers but not with you, Kelly says. Or your boss is dodging your attempts to set one-on-one meetings.
6. You’re being micromanaged
This would look like facing more intense scrutiny without a clear reason. Perhaps your boss is exerting more control over your day-to-day activities or shutting down more of your ideas than usual.
7. You’ve reached a dead end
If you’re asking for additional responsibilities or seeking a promotion but getting shut down, it could be further evidence that your boss isn’t willing to invest in your future potential, says Emily Frank, a Denver-based career counselor and coach who helps clients through her private practice, the Career Catalyst. “It's not necessarily a sign that you're being pushed out, but it may be a sign that they don't value you appropriately and it's time to go.”
What to do if you notice signs your boss wants you to leave
Reasons a person might be pushed out of their job vary from a clash of personalities to an organizational restructuring, Frank says.
You can’t control when a manager feels threatened or decides they simply don’t like you. But when they’re passive aggressively forcing you out, you have a few options that can help you take back control of your professional life.
Initiate the awkward conversation. Ask your supervisor to review your performance and provide metrics you could meet as a way to agree on expectations. Ask specific questions and put any goals in writing.
“It's very uncomfortable, and most of us really dread that kind of confrontational conversation,” Frank says. “So I would recommend that only if you wanted to stay in the role.”
Bring the issue to human resources. In general, your company’s HR department isn’t going to get involved in issues like micromanaging or project assignments, workplace advice columnist Alison Green wrote for Vice in September 2021. They’re more likely to offer ways you can deal with the matter on your own.
That being said, if you're facing serious issues like harassment or discrimination, human resources is trained to take those matters seriously because of the potential legal ramifications. Bear in mind that what you say to HR isn’t confidential.
Plan your next career move. As frustrating as your current predicament might feel, it’s worthwhile to stick it out until you line up your next job. Not only is unemployment not an option for the majority of people who live paycheck to paycheck, but it’s also easier to land a new job when you’re already employed, Frank says.