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Recognizing the Signs: Are You Being "Managed Out" of Your Job?

Signs you're being managed out of your job. Career counselling and coaching hamilton, oakville, burlington, milton
Signs to watch out for if you think you're being managed out

The complex world of work often requires that we pay attention to subtle signals and read between the lines. One very challenging example is when you get the sense you're being "managed out" of your job. This process involves a gradual transition out of your role, sometimes due to performance or organizational changes but for other reasons, too. It is also sometimes called "quiet firing".

Let's start by exploring some signs to watch for to help you recognize if you're facing this situation and then I'll offer guidance on what to do next. If you'd like to speak to a professional Career + Work Counsellor with 20+ years of experience helping folks across the globe with this very thing, you can learn more about how here.

Signs to watch out for if you think you're being managed out of your job:

1. Diminished Responsibilities:

One of the most obvious signs can be a steady reduction in your workload or responsibilities. If you find yourself with less to do than usual and your tasks have been reassigned to others, it could be a red flag.

2. Isolation and Exclusion:

Being excluded from meetings, discussions, or decision-making processes that were once part of your role can be a clear indicator. If your input is no longer valued, it's time to pay attention.

3. Negative Feedback Escalation:

If you suddenly receive a significant increase in negative feedback, especially in your performance evaluations, it may be a sign that management is building a case against you.

4. Lack of Professional Development Opportunities:

If your company has stopped investing in your professional growth, such as denying training requests or blocking promotions, it might indicate they're looking to phase you out.

5. Frequent Supervision or Scrutiny:

An increase in the frequency and intensity of supervision or scrutiny by your superiors can be a sign that they are closely monitoring your performance with the intent to document shortcomings.

6. Unexplained Changes in Reporting Structure:

If your reporting structure changes without clear communication or justification, this could be part of a strategy to distance you from critical roles or projects.

7. Communication Breakdown:

A lack of communication from your superiors or managers can indicate that they're deliberately keeping you in the dark about company decisions or changes that may affect your role.

8. New Leadership Initiatives:

If new leadership initiatives or reorganizations that don't include you have been introduced, it may be a sign that your role is no longer part of the company's long-term plans.

9. Sudden Shift in Company Culture:

A sudden change in company culture that makes you feel out of place or undervalued can also be a sign that you're being managed out.

10. Unexplained PIP (Performance Improvement Plan):

If you're put on a Performance Improvement Plan without prior warning or explanation, it could be a precursor to more drastic measures. I wrote an entire article on this too, you can read it here: Understanding the Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

What to Do Next:

If you suspect you're being managed out of your job, it's essential to take proactive steps:

1. Document Everything:

Keep detailed records of your work, communications, and performance evaluations. This documentation can be valuable if you need to defend your position. Consider task tracking. By documenting achievements and your history of meeting performance metrics, you have evidence of your contributions and successes. Pay attention to activities that fall outside of your job description.

2. Consider Your Options:

Start exploring alternative career opportunities within or outside the company. Update your resume and network proactively.

3. Seek Professional Advice:

Consult with a career counsellor or an employment attorney if you believe you're being unfairly targeted or treated. A career counsellor cannot provide legal advice but can help you work on ways to keep perspective and keep your best interests in the forefront. Getting legal advice helps you know where you stand and what your rights are.

4. Consider Seeking Clarification:

Okay, this is a longer one.

Of course communication at work is important but if you're thinking something is being kept from you, conversations with your boss might already be feeling weird or strained. You might also feel hesitant to discuss this with HR or even a union rep if you have one. Only you know the climate of the space you're in. Trust your "spidey senses" here when it comes to who feels safe to share with and who doesn't.

It's likely you'll want to initiate a conversation with your boss to clarify any potential concerns and inquire about performance expectations. A good manager will have already communicated any issues to you directly and if they haven't, this is another red flag.

Take a big deep breath! Any performance conversations with your boss when you think you might be getting managed out should be handled carefully. You'll want your behaviour to come across from a position of offence as opposed to defence. If you're feeling defensive--as understandable as that may be, don't use how you're feeling against yourself. By this I mean there may be a sense of betrayal or sneakiness that's leaving you feeling hurt, frustrated, or angry. Your goal is to create an outcome that is in your best interest, not to prove a point (ie: that your boss truly is an a-hole), or by letting them know you're "on to them". What good does that actually do you? It might feel good for a minute but that on it's own is unlikely to change your outcome for the better.

You don't want to create a self-fulfilling prophecy here. In other words, if you happen to be misinterpreting the cues and you are sitting securely in your position, you don't want to blow things up for nothing. You also don't want to be plagued by self-doubt to the point you lose self-confidence. Have a goal in mind for any conversations you have. Do you want to gauge your boss's interpretation of the quality of your work or the value you add? Will you attend the conversation armed with examples of this? Do you want an opportunity to demonstrate how your performance has improved? Are you hoping they will somehow explain that the signals you've been picking up on have been misinterpreted and assure you that your job is actually safe? Have a plan.

Being "managed out" of your job can be easy to spot or have only very subtle signs. Sometimes the signs are easier to see in hindsight. But, if you have your suspicions that all is not well at work, don't assume you're overreacting. It's worth paying attention to. It can also feel terrible. I'm sorry if you're going through this.

Pretending the situation isn't happening or ignoring it hoping it will just go away only serves to take away your power though. You can't control everything but you can try to get ahead of this and take some protective measures. Reach out for support if you need it.

Rooting for you,


P.S.: Want to speak with me, a professional career and work counsellor about your situation? I've helped people navigate a wide range of workplace issues--from miscommunications, to being put on a performance plan to being managed out.

If you're uncertain about the next steps to take, sign up for a session with me. You'll get some perspective and a professional opinion on what you're dealing with. Let's discuss potential next steps. After our one hour conversation I'll be available for e-mail follow up for any additional questions you may have, too. If you prefer, or if you're located outside of Canada, I'll email you a link for our session to take place over Google Meet. You can indicate your preference in the message text box when you sign up.

Here's what others had to say after their session:

Review by Sarah T. (England) - ★★★★★

  • "Exceptional guidance! My session with Christine was a game-changer. Thoughtful insights turned my 'managed out' fears into a practical strategy. Highly recommended!"

Review by Emily G. (Canada) - ★★★★★

  • "I can't thank Christine enough for the impactful career coaching session. I felt empowered and armed with strategies to overcome my workplace challenges. A true professional with a genuine commitment to her clients' success."

Review by Michael H. (USA) - ★★★★★

  • "Positive experience! Christine helped me turn a challenging career situation into an opportunity for growth. The session was enlightening, filled with actionable steps, and delivered with genuine care. An absolute must for anyone navigating workplace uncertainties."


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