If your boss has been pushing you to work harder, all while treating you in ways that make you feel demoralized or feel threatened, they may be secretly trying to get you to quit.
Research shows that some managers try to pressure unwanted staff into quitting, especially when companies take steps to reduce headcount and inefficiencies. For instance, one study revealed that more than a quarter of bosses have a direct report they would like to see leave; a survey by Interact found that 37 percent of managers are uncomfortable giving direct feedback or criticism about performance if they think the employee might respond negatively.
Whatever the reason, if you’re being pushed out, here are the things you should (and shouldn’t) do.
Find Out Why
If you suspect that your boss wants you to quit, go straight to the source. Request a formal performance review, advised J.T. O’Donnell, founder and CEO of Work It Daily. Opening up the lines of communication gives you a chance to assess your chances of survival.
If your company recently raised the bar on performance or engaged in employee stack ranking, and you’re suddenly considered an under-performer or poor company cultural fit, the odds of saving your job are slim, O’Donnell noted.
However, if your boss is simply reacting to a budget cut, you may be able to take on new, more vital duties, transfer to a mission-critical project, or at the very least, find a new job before you’re laid off or terminated.
Reframe the Situation
If you see yourself as a victim, you will be one. “View your meeting with your manager as an opportunity to practice emotional intelligence (EQ) and learn to lead with intention as you navigate through choppy waters,” advised Iris Charabi, career and leadership coach.
Ideally, you would have already established a rapport your manager, which will make it easier to have an open and honest conversation (plus, having frequent conversations with your manager about performance can prevent you from being managed out). However, if you haven’t established a solid relationship or if you find your manager to be less than forthcoming, take the lead, she added.
Leading the conversation will give you the opportunity to take your power back. Setting a positive emotional tone for the meeting may also influence the results.
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Calculate Your ROI
If you’re one of those “quiet deliverers” who’s been working remotely, there’s a chance that your boss has no idea what you do or the value you’re providing. You need to stop toiling in obscurity: Before entering the meeting with your boss, create an inventory of the duties you perform (both those in your job description and those that fall outside that description) and assign them a value, O’Donnell advised.
Quantifying your activities and outcomes in concrete terms may serve as a wake-up call to your manager. Should the worst happen, it will also help you create a value proposition to market yourself to prospective employers.
Make sure to document every conversation and save a copy of every email, especially if you think you’re being pushed out for an unjustified or illegal reason like age, race or retaliation.
For instance, when an employer places extraordinary and unreasonable work demands on an employee to obtain their resignation, this can constitute a constructive dismissal. If you think your manager is pushing you out because of a personality clash or dispute, you may be able to make a complaint in accordance with your employer’s grievance procedures.
Think Carefully Before Turning Down Voluntary Severance
If your manager offers voluntary severance as an incentive to get you to leave, think carefully before turning it down.
While it might be easier to find a job when you're still employed, if your job is eliminated before you find a new position, you may not be offered severance. Sometimes it’s better to leave on your own terms, with money in your pocket. However, if you have a contract that stipulates what you will receive if you are let go and it’s worth more than the voluntary severance, tough it out and don't quit.
Take the High Road
Don’t badmouth your boss or tell your co-workers what’s going on. When your boss finds out (and they will find out), they may use it as an excuse to fire you or give you a bad reference. Continue to do your best work (and vent outside the office) while covering your bases while considering potential long term effects, as well. Speaking of which…
Cover Your Bases
Whether you decide to quit or stay, get your finances in order and start searching for jobs (refer to this step-by-step guide).
If you’re being forced out, you want to know the details. Are you eligible for rehire or to transfer to another position? What will the company say about you during a reference check? How many people are being let go and why is the company restructuring? Knowing the specifics will help you promote yourself to potential employers.
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