It’s not easy to survive corporate politics – do you have a gut feeling that you are being pushed out of your job? Here are 9 unexpected signs you’re about to get fired.
Yes, of course there are basic reasons that you know will get you fired – failure to meet deadlines, being late everyday, ill-mouthing your company, not achieving targets consistently, insubordination. However, there are also some other non-obvious reasons that you’ve never even thought of. Sometimes, you’re just trying to do the right thing, but turns out, they don’t want the right thing.
After working 16 years in the corporate world, I’ve dealt with many a case of corporate politics. Some good, some bad. So today I’m writing about the bad ones – those that make you realize you could be getting fired soon.
When the idea for this article first came to me, I thought I’d be writing a funny and satirical piece. However, after starting this article, it quickly became clear that things were getting serious.
As you’ll soon realize once you start reading it, it’s based on many true incidents that have happened to my colleagues over time, and even to me and my wife. But worry not, these are all corporate learnings that helped us get where we are, start our own company. And being in some toxic work environments even helped us learn what not to do at our own company, so that we can build a better culture here at Shilpa Ahuja Media that our employees have come to enjoy.
9 Signs You’re About to Get Fired
So let’s get started – the 9 reasons that could surprisingly get you fired. Some of these are very easy to recognize, and for others you may just be having a gut feeling. If you get any of these feelers, start looking for a back-up option soon, or don’t show the particular trait that’s causing the problem.
1.You get paid considerably high compared to your peers
Well, we all want a high-paying job, but at times you may get yourself a high salary package and think, this information is not likely not going to come out in the open, but it more often does. This would lead to dissatisfaction among your peers or even your reporting manager and could lead to a hostile environment for you, which can eventually lead to your firing.
How do you tell if you are getting fired? If you notice murmurs that stop as soon as you enter the room, or your peers are noticeably being hostile to you, you can assume something bad.
Now you may think, my work should be worth the salary they offered me, there’s a reason I got that offer, right? Well, yes. However, every manager’s job is to make sure there’s less conflict in their team, so the work goes on smoothly. If the old workers are dissatisfied by the salary of a new team member, firing the latter is the easier path for a manager than to get the approval to raise everyone else’s salary.
2. Your work is appreciated by your super bosses
Most people would think this is a good thing, and appreciation from your top bosses would cement your position in the company. However, logic often takes a backseat in corporate politics.
When you do good work, you can bring about changes in your organization. If you get appreciated for it, that means you solely take its credit. This often leads to others in your company feeling unsettled.
This appreciation would come to everybody’s notice and your team members, and even your manager can start to envy you. That is a really bad sign. This could lead to your manager conspiring against you to tarnish your image in front of the top management, and eventually lead to your firing.
3. You work for a startup that’s losing money
If you are working for a startup that has consistently been losing money, odds are very high that you may get fired. Working at a startup has been glamorized a lot in the last couple of years, especially because of the handsome salary packages the funded ones offer.
You may think that it’s great to join a startup, as you would learn a lot. The fast-paced environment means there’s always changing direction and extra workload. However, that appeals to a lot of young professionals, especially to aspiring entrepreneurs.
However, when a company gets established and their processes get streamlined, they may start firing employees to reduce their costs. The sureshot way of finding out is to see how quickly they are hiring. Usually, in a well-managed business, the hiring process is more organic. Staff joins, and there are managers who train them. Then the junior staff eventually gets promoted. However, if at your startup everyone seems to be new (less than a year at the company), that’s a sign of an inorganic growth, which is unsustainable.
4. You get caught reading a newspaper in the office
However harmless this might sound, getting caught reading a newspaper leaves a bad impression on your boss’s mind and would, and if a situation arises, this may act as a nudge to get you fired.
I know, this sounds like the weirdest reason to include in this list. However, most managers expect their team members to be as productive as possible, and want them to utilize every working minute, well, actually working.
Moreover, in most cases, the management doesn’t care about your personal growth. Yes, you may think that staying abreast with the latest news will make you a better professional in the long run, and let you take larger roles at the office. However, the company only pays you for what you contribute currently. Reading a newspaper is a sign that you’re using your office hours for personal growth, which should be, in their minds, done during personal time.
5. You may do your job decently, but you seem relaxed most of the time
It’s not a corporate myth that bosses like to see their employees busy and even drained. This is the actual truth. They like to see you looking haggard at least sometimes. Companies often talk about keeping their employees maintain work-life balance, however, this is more of a PR exercise, designed to attract the best minds.
If you give this relaxed image of yourself, your colleague will develop the perception that you are not contributing enough. This can eventually lead to you getting fired, and replaced by a younger or less-experienced employee.
So if you’re a junior level employee, seem busy and showcase your workflow, not just the results. If you’re mid-management, look busy following up with your team, and show you care about deadlines, even if you’ve delegated many tasks.
6. Your boss thinks you are smarter than him
If you get this impression from your prospective employer at an interview, consider this to be a red flag. Sooner or later during your course of employment, it’ll become obvious that your boss is feeling threatened by you, either because of something you do, or because of something the super boss says.
Do you find yourself wondering, “Am i getting fired or just paranoid?” No, you’re not paranoid. Here’s how to find out.
If you give an impression to your boss that you are smarter than him, he’s very likely to give you an assignment that is unlikely to fructify. Bosses delegate jobs or assignments to their threatening subordinates that hardly contribute any value to the organization.
This is because they’re trying to prove that even though you seemed like a great hire initially, you’re not really adding value. Gradually they would cut you off from your organization’s core business and your firing wouldn’t make any difference to the organization.
7. You are a favorite of your top boss, who’s about to move out
Many times when you are part of the organization, and you are able to connect with a top executive whose decision matters to bring about changes. Initially, it may seem like a great idea to become part of the core team. You may think this will increase your chances of promotion.
In a scenario like this, you could be a valuable contributor to the organization, but in the process, you could have unsettled other senior people in your organization. So when your top boss or executive moves out of the organization, your seniors may target you and push you out of the organization.
8. You are chosen and sent for a mid-management executive training program
If you’re selected by your company for a career advancement perk, such as an executive training program, or a short-duration degree program, this can shake up people’s perspective of you. This leading to your firing is probably the most bizarre reason one would think.
However, once you are chosen for an envious training course like this, your organization would have high expectations from you to perform and your peers and seniors would be secretly jealous of you, and this jealousy could lead to your firing.
9. Your resume is getting promoted on job sites and seems to be floating everywhere
No matter what job sites promise that they shall be keeping your resume confidential, it’s highly likely that your company’s HR team will be the first to get to know that you are on the lookout.
This is one of the more obvious reasons of you getting fired. This will have nothing to do with your performance in the team. However, it’ll send the message to your company that you’re not giving your top performance because you’re considering other opportunities.
If you find your management constantly questioning your performance, or leaving you out of key meetings and emails, then these are some subtle signs you’re about to get fired.
So I hope this list was helpful. While I sincerely hope that you can relate to none of the reasons mentioned here, but if you do, I’m glad that you can realize them and course-correct sooner rather than later. And if not, well, then count it as a learning experience.
So now you must be thinking, “What can I do if I think I’m getting fired?” As you may have realized, an entrepreneurial spirit is not appreciated in a corporate environment, where you’re expected to do your duties and really appreciate the work. So what can you do to make sure your boss doesn’t fire you? How can you avoid getting the short end of corporate politics stick?
Well, let’s also look at what you can do to seal your place in your company.
How to Succeed in Your Organization
Now that I’ve listed several reasons that can get you fired, I would like to conclude by giving some tips on how you could succeed in an organization:
- You need to portray that you are not a threat to anyone, especially your peers and immediate manager.
- You need to give confidence to your boss that you are a 110% obeying slave and have no entrepreneurial ambitions.
- You hate shows like Shark Tank.
- You need to showcase that you have no life other than your organization.
- You need to deliver a perception that you are always worked up and don’t take any holidays.
- Your residence is close to your office.
- You don’t ever question your boss.
- You never list your resume on a job site, in fact, you never created a resume.
- You are never late to the office. In fact, you’re often the first to arrive.
- You often come to work on holidays, and don’t mind finishing up the work at home when necessary.
- You give a perception that you are unlikely going to get a job if you get fired.
- You worship Sundar Pitchai and Satya Nadella as your heroes, not Elon Musk or Sam Altman.
Abhishek Sareen is a sales & marketing professional with over 16 years of experience. He started his career as a management consultant at Kurt Salmon Associates and has worked in marketing & brand management, international business in sectors like precision steel tubes for automotive industry, consumer goods and retail.
He’s is a passionate cyclist and participated in several endurance competitive events. His interests are in behavioral psychology, economics and chess. He is a graduate in Computer Science and an MBA in Marketing. He completed his executive education from IIM-A in 2016 focusing on business strategy.