Struggling at work and not feeling like you have a great relationship with your boss is a tough place to be.
Work is where we invest a lot of our time and energy and when things aren’t going well, it can really impact how you feel day to day.
But how do you know if you actually are struggling and if your boss wants you to leave? This article is going to review some of the most common signs your boss wants you to leave and make a recommendation for what to do if those apply to you.
If it’s helpful, you can contrast these signs with the most common signs that your boss wants you to stay to get a sense of where you stand.
Let’s dive in.
- 1 Signs Your Boss Wants You To Leave
- 1.1 1. They Give You a Bad Performance Review
- 1.2 2. They Put You On a Performance Improvement Plan
- 1.3 3. They Give You a Small Raise
- 1.4 4. They Have a Direct Conversation With You About It
- 1.5 5. They Exclude You From Relevant Meetings and Decisions
- 1.6 6. They Take Work Away From You
- 1.7 7. They Act Coldy Towards You
- 1.8 8. You Get Demoted
- 1.9 9. You Are Micromanaged
- 1.10 10. Your Company Wants You to Document Everything
- 1.11 11. You Do Not Receive Any Development Opportunities
- 2 What To Do If You’re Experiencing Signs Your Boss Wants You To Leave
- 3 Conclusion
Signs Your Boss Wants You To Leave
1. They Give You a Bad Performance Review
A performance review is a formal assessment in which a manager evaluates an employee’s work performance. It is also one of the most tangible ways to know where you stand with your boss.
If your boss gives you a bad performance review, particularly if you receive multiple bad performance reviews, that’s a strong sign that your boss may want you to leave.
2. They Put You On a Performance Improvement Plan
A performance improvement plan (PIP) is a document that states any recurring performance issues along with goals that an employee needs to accomplish in order to achieve good standing with the company.
If you receive a bad performance review, a PIP may come along with it.
A performance improvement plan is another tangible sign that your boss wants you to leave as it formally documents that you need to improve your performance.
If you don’t achieve the goals laid out in the plan, there’s a good chance that you may get terminated.
This video from HRUprise covers in more detail what a PIP is and what it means for you if you get placed on one:
3. They Give You a Small Raise
Generally, companies have some sort of annual pay adjustment process. And pay adjustments are typically given out in a range (say 2 – 5%).
If your manager gives you a raise that is on what you believe is the low end of the range, that could be a sign that they want you to leave (or at least that they don’t think you’re one of the top performers).
Typically, you’re not going to know the specifics of the pay range so it can be a little tough to gauge this one. However, in my experience, if you’re on the high end of the range, your manager will make a point of telling you that so you know that they value you. And, in general, 2 – 3% will be on the low end of pretty much any range.
4. They Have a Direct Conversation With You About It
In some cases, your manager will have a direct, or multiple direct conversations, with you about your performance at the company.
A manager may flat at out tell you that your performance needs to change if you want to stay at the company.
Or they may even start to guide you towards alternate companies, or alternate jobs within the company (a process referred to as being “counseled out”).
5. They Exclude You From Relevant Meetings and Decisions
If you find that you’re not being included in meetings, discussions, or decisions that your team is making or would be relevant for your job, that’s one of the stronger signs your boss wants you to leave.
Ultimately, if you’re in good standing, and you’re a valued member of the team, your manager will want your opinion on decisions that are relevant to your job.
If you’re not, however, you may find that you’re being included in meetings less and less.
6. They Take Work Away From You
Another sign that your boss wants you to leave is if they start taking work away from you.
If you used to own a particular project, or working area, and you find that your manager no longer wants you to be responsible for that, it’s a sign that you may not be in great standing in your current work.
7. They Act Coldy Towards You
It’s never a great sign if a boss starts acting coldly towards you.
Now, it may just be that you have a boss that was never a very nice person to being with and doesn’t really care about you or other teammates. However, if you see a change in your manager’s behavior, and they begin acting coldly towards you in a way that they did not before, that’s a sign that something may be going on.
8. You Get Demoted
Another black and white sign that your boss wants you to leave is that you get demoted.
Now, sometimes demotion take the form of a decrease in title and in pay. Other times, you maintain the same pay and title but you get a significant chunk of your responsibilities taken away.
If either case happens to you, it’s a strong sign that you don’t have much potential for growth at the organization and that your boss may want you to leave.
9. You Are Micromanaged
If you see your boss adding additional red tape and approval layers that did not used to be there, or you start being micromanaged in a way that you were not before, that is a concerning sign.
Now, if that behavior is consistent with what you’ve seen from your manager since you’ve with the organization, you may just have a toxic boss that isn’t great to work for, but it’s not necessarily a sign that they want you to leave. However, if you see them change their behavior to become more micromanage-ey, that’s when it’s a troublesome sign.
10. Your Company Wants You to Document Everything
If there’s a good chance that an employee is going to be terminated, the HR department typically wants management to document as much as possible. It helps them to keep a paper trail about negative performance should they get sued by the employee.
If you find that the company wants you to start documenting things in a way they did not before, that’s one of the signs that your boss wants to leave, or that you may be getting terminated soon.
11. You Do Not Receive Any Development Opportunities
If you find that other members of your team get to go to conferences, company trainings, or take online courses that you don’t get offered or have access to, it’s not a great indicator about your standing in an organization.
If a company wants to retain you and grow your role in an organization, they’ll likely want to proactively develop and grow your skills.
However, if they don’t particularly care to retain you, then you’re unlikely to see many of those investments in your development.
What To Do If You’re Experiencing Signs Your Boss Wants You To Leave
If you are experiencing one or multiple of the above signs your boss wants you to leave, it can be a tough and stressful situation that is difficult to know how to handle.
To that end, there are a couple of recommendation that I would offer for what to do:
1. Have a Conversation with Your Manager
If you think that your boss may want to leave or that he/she may not be happy with your performance, the best first step is to address it directly and get feedback.
Now, that may not be necessary if you’re on a performance plan, got a negative review, or already had a direct conversation with your manager about it. They may have already made that clear and you may know what you need to do to correct the situation.
However, if that tangible conversation has not happened, and you’re getting more of the softer signs, it can be helpful to address it correctly, rather than assume.
Typically, managers will conduct recurring 1:1 meetings with their staff and that is a good opportunity to get feedback from your manager. You can ask an open ended question like “I’m always looking to improve and get feedback on opportunities to do my job to the best of my ability. To that end, I wanted to request your honest feedback on my performance and if there are opportunities for me to improve.”
2. Start Looking for Another Job
If you have validated your assumption that your boss wants you to leave, and you think it will be difficult to rectify the situation, then I would suggest that you be proactive and start looking for another job.
Update your resume, start submitting job applications, and start prepping for interviews.
As unfortunate as it may be, it’s better to get ahead of it and find another job that you choose on your timeline and your terms, rather than being left in the difficult situation of being terminated and scrambling for another job.
Hopefully, the article above has helped you be able to assess the common signs your boss wants to leave.
Prior to making any moves, you’ll want to make sure that you’re assessing the signs correctly via a direct conversation with your boss.
If you are in fact confident that your boss wants you to leave, it’s best to get ahead of it and leave on your own terms rather than wait for your employer to make the decision for you.