Being employed brings joy and sorrow to different people. Happiness comes to those engaged in jobs they love and are appreciated by employers. Sorrow comes to those who face a job they do not like and an employer who does not like them.
In most cases, when an employer no longer wants you, they often make you feel it.
I have had conversations with many people who have expressed horror stories of how their employers have treated them. The unfortunate part is that there will be clear signs that your time is up.
Here I will share some of the signs you need to look out for as long as you are employed.
If you are senior enough, you may be elevated to a non-existent role, such as Manager Special Projects, Special Assistant to the CEO or Editor at Large. These are all roles that are often reserved for people who are no longer needed in the organisation. Such is a polite way of saying it’s time up, please look for opportunities elsewhere. What is sad about such developments is that the people targeted in this way often take a long time to realise that their time is up. They normally remember yesteryear’s glory, which would be the only reason they keep hanging in. Such people have been the darling of management before such that they find it hard to process their demotion in this fashion. They often rationalise this as a promotion when they are being promoted out.
When you find that you are being excluded from attending meetings you used to participate in as a key team member, you must know your time is up. The reasons given for your exclusion often do not make sense, but they will be advanced anyway. Once you start seeing a pattern like this, start looking elsewhere for opportunities.
If you are a senior staff member, they may start by taking away some of your benefits. They often do this when you are in a weaker position to bargain. A typical example is when they downgrade your car or any other benefit in the name of rationalisation. It’s normally followed by what they label as poor performance on your part. Many employees have no plan B, so they will stay even if the message is clear that they are no longer wanted.
If you are very senior, you will have noticed that when the organisation faces serious challenges, you are likely to be blamed for the poor performance. In some cases, you are blamed for things that are not even in your portfolio. When you are consistently blamed for things outside your control, you must know your time is up.
When you get transferred to any area or department, that does not make sense. You can be assigned to an obscure role in HR or procurement coming from the finance department as an example. You can also be transferred from working in an urban area to a rural location to punish you until you realise that you are no longer needed. If you try to raise concerns, you will be told you are disobeying a lawful order. If you agree to go to any of these assignments, you are out as you will be ignored.
When your boss starts questioning you for taking your leave days. The moment your boss starts asking lots of questions before authorising your leave, you must know your time is up. This means that the boss is trying to push you into your situation where you will defy their orders, and they will eventually charge you.
When everything you do is labelled as wrong. When everything you do is part of your work, your boss will look for faults and dress you down for such mistakes. Check on the frequency of such accusations. If you find that they are becoming more prevalent than before, you must know your time is up.
When you find that a manager who used to manage you well changes the approach, it may time up. As an example, a boss who never used to micromanage you is now utilising the micromanagement approach. In such a case, you are called more frequently to check for progress than before.
When your boss sends instructions directly to your subordinates, bypassing you, know your time is up. This is an indication that the boss has lost confidence in you. This is one of the surest signs that indicate that you are no longer useful. Imagine your boss sending you instructions about what you should do via your subordinates.
One other way that shows you that your time is up is when you are demoted. We normally say demotion should be the last option when someone is being punished. Such demotion does not only remove you from your level but can take you two levels down from where you are now.
Lack of promotion opportunities or being skipped for promotions when you feel you are the right candidate can signify that the employer does not see any future in your contribution.
In all the signs above, the employer or boss shows you that you should look for a job elsewhere.
Once you see some of these signs, you must activate plan B; looking for opportunities before being fired.
There is nothing so humiliating as being fired when you least expect to leave the organisation.
I have seen people in this situation who end up having a mental breakdown. Please do not stay when you see a persistent pattern showing some of these signs.
Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker and managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. — ipcconsultants.com