You’re Fired! 20 Signs That a Pink Slip is Coming

By Paul Michael on 23 May 2007 (Updated 15 April 2011) 129 comments

There are two types of employees. One has a good idea of what they do, who they are, and what position they play in the company. They are savvy. They know the score. They are under no delusions, and will no doubt leave for another job long before they are ever considered as cannon-fodder. (See also: Laid Off? You May Have to Fight for Unemployment Benefits)

And then there's the other kind. The guy who could get Gandhi to hate him. The woman who spends most of her day chatting on the phone to friends or doing online shopping. Or the nice chap in sales who is completely oblivious that the recent merger means his job is now obsolete. They all have Ostrich Syndrome. They couldn't see a pink slip coming if it was 8ft tall and glowing in the dark, screaming "you're fired!"

You want to avoid being in that second category at all costs. So I've compiled a handy list. If you can answer yes to THREE or more of these questions, you may want to think about sprucing up your resume and dry-cleaning your best interview attire.

1. Are you no longer in the loop about, well, anything?

This is a huge telltale sign. Suddenly you're finding out about company news from the cleaning lady or the new girl in accounting. If you were formally in the know about all things business related, but now suffer from "the company's doing what??!" disease, the writing is probably on the wall.

2. Did you recently screw up big-time?

We're not talking a minor faux pas here. Did you lose money on an account that was previously bulletproof? Oh dear. Were you caught having sex on the boss's desk with the boss's spouse? That's probably not a career-enhancing move. Unless you're a real dope, you know if you have screwed up. And if you know, HR knows. It may not be the final nail in your coffin, but it's a nail in the coffin nonetheless.

3. Are people avoiding you at all costs?

Eye contact is difficult to make with someone if you know his or her head's on the chopping block. Small talk is just as tough. It's best just to avoid that person altogether. So if people are no longer doing that fun "stop 'n' chat" in the hall, or the coffee room empties when you arrive, then guess what…you may be a marked man or woman.

4. Did your last performance review read like a train wreck?

Most of the time, a performance review is a whole bunch of niceties. The boss really doesn't want to say anything TOO good, because everyone has room for improvement. But generally, they praise within reason and avoid anything too negative. So if your review paints you as a stupid version of Homer Simpson with less talent than a Backstreet Boy, well, that tap on the shoulder is coming.

5. Has your company recently been sold or merged?

This is rarely good news for about 90% of the staff. Sure, management is fine. After all, they negotiated the deal. But whether you were sold or merged, the outcome is the same…changes will be made across the board. A merger means duplication of many jobs. Duplication = redundancy. Being sold means new management, and they always have new plans for the company. New plans that includes cutbacks and layoff. Basically, watch your back if there's a new name on the front door.

6. Are you being given impossible jobs with no chance of success?

This one is underhanded, which is why it's so popular. The company may need a big reason to give you the boot, especially if you've done everything right and are the life and soul of your department. Enter the impossible task. "Ahh Wilkins, we need you to expand our new line of warm, alcohol-free beers to construction workers." "Johnson, how's that line of umbrellas doing in the new L.A. store?" You get the picture. If you've been given a thankless task, at least be thankful for the blatant tip-off that you're about to be let go.

7. Do you now have less responsibility than the intern?

Ouch. Being stripped of your responsibilities is a sure-fire sign that there's something unpleasant on the horizon. After all, you don't fire someone who's got a ton of important work to do, with loads of people underneath him/her. So, over time the poor sucker in management's sights will be given a new job title, less work, less people (or no people) and will eventually have a hard time finding anything of any real value to do all day. Not long after this, that same employee will be out on the street. In fact, if you're at work and have enough time to read this article, you may very well be in the firing line.

8. Has your office, cubicle or working space recently been down-sized?

Remember poor old Milton in Office Space being moved from one small space to another, until he was eventually sat in the dark, in the basement, dealing with pest problems. Well, this is not so far from the truth. When employees are in the firing line, it's a lot easier to move them around and downsize their environment without worrying about their morale. If you are reading this in your new 6ft by 6ft cubicle with no lights on a 1999 PC with a 200MB hard drive, you're not exactly a valued employee any more.

9. Do people whisper more, or does the conversation change as you approach?

If you're marked for termination, you'll be the last one to know about it. And being the grown-up responsible people that they are, your co-workers will be quite happy to whisper about your impending doom in a dark corner of the coffee room. Until you show up, when suddenly the conversation will change abruptly to something really original…like the weather.

10. Did your recently receive a pay freeze or, worse still, a pay cut?

There are a few reasons this could happen, none of them are good. Either the company is in trouble and they need to cut costs, or you're in trouble and they don't want to pay you. If it's the first one, you may not necessarily be in immediate danger but no-one wants to work for a company that's going down the tubes (read Who Moved My Cheese for more on that one). If it's the latter, well, your boss is basically telling you that you're about as welcome as a fart in an astronaut suit. Begin the job hunt immediately.

11. Have you seen a job posting for your company that matches your job description?

Human Resources can be crafty. They don't want to fire you without having someone waiting in the wings to immediately fill your shoes. That's why it's not uncommon to see your own job out on the Internet months before you eventually get canned. Worse still (and this has happened to someone I know) they hire your replacement before you're fired and get YOU to teach the newbie how to do your job. Nice. Then they fire you.

12. Does everyone hate you? I mean really dislike you with a passion?

If you're one of those people who are oblivious to this kind of question, please skip to #13. If you have a thread of common sense, read on. It's not an easy thing to face up to, but you can at least spot the telltale signs. Do you eat alone at lunchtime? Do people never laugh at your jokes? Can you clear a room faster than a pack of rabid pit-bulls? If you're ok at your job but are just not popular, that will be seen as affecting morale. And morale is not something to mess with. Either shape up your attitude, or find a new job that maybe doesn't require you to work with people on a day-to-day basis.

13. Have you recently been asked to take some time off?

Let's face it. Companies in America are not prone to encouraging vacation time (compared to Europe, where we get oodles of time off). If it's not to use up vacation you're about to lose, or for a genuine reward for a huge project you've just finished, then you are in trouble. When the boss tells you to take a break, they're more than likely telling you that they'd rather not have you in the office. Maybe they'd like to talk about you behind your back (which is a lot easier when your back is in Tahiti). Maybe they need time to figure out how to can you. Either way, it's all a lot easier with you out of the picture. Time off = firing scenario.

14. Are you noticing paper-trails between yourself and your superiors?

A quick word in your ear used to be just fine. A phone call was great. A stop 'n' chat in the hall was a regular occurrence. But now everything is happening via memos and emails. There's a reason for that. HR requires written/printed evidence of everything if there's to be a firing. A paper trail is necessary to determine that your boss did everything by the book, and to record every single one of your screw-ups. So, if you've gone from getting a few memos and emails a week, to a daily deluge of paper and a full inbox, these are warning signs that you're being watched very closely.

15. Are you finding it almost impossible to get approval or 'buy in' on projects?

Think back. A long time ago, people would green light your projects faster than the Road Runner on amphetamines. But that's no longer the case. The boss is suddenly silent when it comes to approval. You're being passed around fro middle-manager to middle-manager. You get voicemail 99% of the time you call someone for their opinion, and the other 1% it's their secretary…who then puts you through to voicemail. No-one is going to green-light a project from someone whose time is up at that company. They don't want to associate themselves with the kiss of death that is your idea. If it happens to be a great idea, no worries, they'll take credit for it once you're gone. The silent treatment is a sure sign of pink-slip disease.

16. Have you recently been asked to work on a "special project"?

This could have many other names. "New company initiative" or "Confidential research assignment" are other known terms for this. But it basically comes down to one role…the project takes you away from REAL work and puts you on something that's either mildly important, not important at all, is going nowhere, or is just plain useless.

"Hey Smith, how is that special project on frozen concentrated orange juice coming along?"
"Fine Sir. Can I ask what this has to do with the IT department?"
"Oh, you'll find out Smith. You'll find out."

Rule of thumb. The second you are asked to leave a project you know is important for one that sounds like a bunch of bologna, your career is heading south quickly.

17. Are your successes and accomplishments being glossed over?

This one's tricky to work out, because most bosses and coworkers are weasels who will happily play down your role in order to make themselves look good. But, judge this one by looking to the past. Did you boss used to praise you up to management? Were you a golden boy or girl? That's great. But if it's now impossible to get praise for doing something spectacular, like doubling company profits, then you're being disrespected and probably have a large 'fire me' target printed on your forehead. If you're not getting kudos, you may be getting fired.

18. Are you currently being 'retrained' or are taking coaching sessions?

Again, a tricky one. Retraining or coaching is often a way to try to save an employee who has lost his or her way. It shows that the company or your boss still gives a crap. BUT, it also has a darker side. It's another one of those 'cover the company's butt' scenarios, in which HR demonstrates they did everything they possibly could to make things work. And alas it didn't, so they had to let you go. Not a major warning sign on its own, but combined with a few others, this has danger written all over it.

19. Has your immediate boss or mentor gone bye-bye?

If someone you trusted and respected, like a boss or mentor, is no longer around for whatever reason (promotion, fired, quit) this could spell trouble. This person may have been the only one keeping the wolf from your door. And there's an easy way to find out. Is it now impossible to get projects approved? Are you being left out of meetings? Does nothing run smoothly now that this person is no longer on the scene? If this is the case, that's cause for concern.

20. Have you recently been promoted to a position of less responsibility?

What a cunning rouse this one is. It's quite simple but efficient. In your old position, it may have been very difficult or almost impossible to get rid of you. But if the company promotes you into a newly created role, with less responsibility and no direct reports, then you have a new scenario…position elimination. It's hard to fire someone. It's easy to eliminate a position. You can get rid of anyone, even protected classes (older folks, pregnant ladies etc) if you simply eliminate a position. So, be afraid. Be very afraid. If you were formerly "Account Manager" and are now "Director In Charge Of Special Project Development" you may as well clear out your desk right now.

Remember, THREE or more and you're more than likely heading for the unemployment line. Take a long hard look at your working life, and do something about it. After all, if you're not good enough for them, then they're not good enough for you.

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Guest's picture
Guest

BEEN THERE

I have seen a different version of #6. It also should have read 'or goals'. I remember working at a call center where they got a new account. The new account had an extremely high threshold for performance that had to be met. If you are being given goals that have no possibility of your success, it is time to start looking. There was a similar version of #6 and this applies to salesmen as well. This guy worked at a company as a salesman, and he was making the company good money, but they wanted someone younger and cheaper. The salesman overextended himself with a fancy house and fancy car, and wasn't prepared for the firing. The company kept raising his quota every month until there was no possibility he could meet it. If you are a salesman and the company suddenly keeps raising your quota, it is a sign of trouble. If you are a call center rep, and you used to get 3 surveys a week, and the ones higher up or their client raises the bar by making them up to 3 every day, it is another sign to start looking. When a company keeps making it harder to meet your goals, that is a warning sign.

Guest's picture
Pat

I can agree with all the obvious signs that a firing is looming. For me, it was more subtle. It began with a sudden feeling of distrust in my boss. Nothing had happened to cause this, it was just my gut feeling.

Always, always trust your instincts.

Guest's picture
Guest

Nice list. I'll add another one. It should be obvious, but like the intro says, some people may not see it: your company is already laying people off, or have recently gone through rounds of layoffs. You might have your job now, or have survived previous rounds of layoffs, but the company is obviously downsizing and you might be next.

Guest's picture
FPam

This is something I agree with. Every year right after the new fiscal year we are told things are looking up and there are new goals and then a few weeks later we are called into the conference room and are told that a few people are laid off. And I love how they say that it is only two or only one and that no one else is going anywhere but I know better. I used to bury my head in the sand because I used to think that things would just work out but it don't work that way. I always say be very cognizant of what goes on.

Guest's picture
FPam

So far I have never been officially laid off from any company; however, there were times when I felt that the employers didn't really want me around. When I was 15 years old I worked as a camp counselor and got one of the best ratings. When I returned for another summer I was kind of treated like crap. They would give groups to other counselors who didn't get the best ratings while I had to wait to get a group even thought I was hired for the summer. The excuse was they were overstaffed. When I look back on this I believe this was their way of trying to get rid of me without firing me so that it would make their life easier.

The second and third camp counseling jobs after this one the staff just totally ignored me unless they really had to talk to me. Even at other jobs I would see things not just with me but with other employees when the employers would just behave like they were children and treat their underlings like crap.

Later when I graduated from college and worked, I have witnessed a lot of position eliminations as a result of an employee resigning or the employer simply laid him/her off. In addition I often noticed everytime we got a new head there were always changes across the board and those changes meant letting go employees. And they would do a lot of stuff as mentioned in this article to make it like it wasn't the employees fault and most of the time it wasn't their fault. I finally got a reality check over a year ago when the new CEO came into the organization and we didn't get a raise for the year. It hit me later when my boss was being let go and a new boss took his place. It turned out this boss and the CEO were friends and came from the same company. Later there were so many more meetings, company lunches and parties that I felt in my mind were not necessary and are not cost effective. The turning point was when the CEO got pregnant that I realize something. The employers could afford to have parties, meetings and social events but they can't afford to pay their employees any money and it is sad.

Rule of thumb for any company: If there is a new boss, there are changes on the horizon. So be prepared. Another rule of thumb: If an employer ignores you despite the fact that you are a good worker and your evaulation is great, take it as a sign that you should go for greener pastures.

Thank you

Guest's picture
Mike G

Well...This scares me. I've pretty much experienced 1 through 20. Several all at once, but all at some point or another. My boss is co-owner of the company and she has the word "chief" in her self appointed title, so she prides herself on the fact that she is in charge. She has her undergraduate degree in business communication--or "pre-law" as she puts it. She verges on the act of practicing law without a license so many times, but even the attorneys in our department don't question this or push back because she is so domineering and controling. I'm at the point now where I don't even care anymore if I get fired. I know it's going to happen, and truthfully, I would feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off of my shoulders if I could just get out of there and work on finding a new career. Sometimes...dare I say this in this horrible economy...being fired can be the best thing to happen to some people. It really puts things into perspective and can actually open up more avenues of opportunity that might not have been seen before.

Guest's picture

I've been on the receiving end of some of those, certainly to say that they all ended up in truth.

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Hunty

This is a very good list; the signs are very real as I am currently bracing for the worst.

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Homer

Oh Great... What does it mean if you think have nine out of twenty? Douh!!!!

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Guest

Great list, I wish I had read it last year! I personally went through at least half of these in the last 6 months working for my previous employer. It's very sneaky the way they set you up to essentially fail and "build up a case" to let you go. In my case, there was a paper trail, bad review, the retraining, the lack of praise even though I was performing arguably better than a lot of employees, etc. In the end I decided to take matter into my own hands and decided to quit that job before I was let go. If you see these signs though you better update your resume and start looking for a job ASAP.

Guest's picture
Guest

None of the above. So I just started at this company...been there one month, picked up things fast, kicked butt and but rocked the boat a bit. My supervisor believes I just disobeyed one of her orders. She requested a "discussion" meeting with me with HR present. Several system passwords were just changed. Yeah, I think that's a sign.

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Guest

Oh boy, oh boy. I wish I had this list before. I can see several things that happened before I was let go after 13+ years with exemplary evaluations. Some great employees at our office (I was a roady...representative) also got the pinkie.

The company came after my unemployment benefits by saying I was working for them while I collected. I was being paid severance. The decision was overturned by a judge. Now, since they didn't win that battle, they are trying to say I voluntarily quit.
I recall being 3 1/2 hours from home on a job when the district manager came to tell me that it was to their best interest if I didn't go back to work. Voluntary? Now I guess I have to appeal again. Yes, I had to sign a no sue clause for the severance...so I just have to keep playing their game until they get tired. A multi BILLION dollar international company, has nothing better to do. *rolls eyes*.

Guest's picture
Zach

I don't fit any of these at the moment. But so many of these signs were in play at the company that I was working at previously that you wouldn't believe it. A friend of mine is still working there and he is experiencing a lot of this.

Guest's picture

Very nice article, should be helpful for people in need. We should all be prepared for the worse in this economy.

I have drafted a comprehensive list of 20 things to do when you are on the verge of being laid off. Do check out the link if interested. I will be glad if you get benefitted by the list.

http://onecentatatime.com/20-things-to-do-before-you-lose-your-job/

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Guest

I loved the article. I found it hilarious and despite being quite depressed because I know I'm slated for the axe, I had a good chuckle. The writer has a very good sense of humour.

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Guest

My situation was a bit unorthodox, but here's a situation you should never get into. My brother-in-law was a customer service manager for a major auction house. I was getting tired of my current job at that time, and he said he might be able to get me in the door at his job making a lot more money than I was. So I filled out the application, went to the interview and took an aptitude test. Now, I thought I did good in the interview, but later was told I did terrible. Still don't know if that was just my brother-in-law being a prick or not, but he told me that he "was the only reason" I got the job. I also found out that I scored higher on the aptitude test than anyone had ever scored before, up to a genius level intellect. Some of my co-workers knew this (almost everyone was related to the boss in some way, and gossip spread to every crack of the company), and I think it was a little intimidating for some, especially given that I was the youngest employee in my department and division. The person who was the supervisor was only just promoted, but she was actually never really promoted. She was only filling in until someone was officially promoted to "department supervisor". The previous supervisor was promoted to a different department as a manager, much higher up. He was also dating/living with/had a child with the boss (whom everyone was related to). The person filling in as supervisor was his sister-in-law. Her husband was a clerk in a department across the hall. Her mother was some kind of supervisor, too (I think, she rarely showed up and I never really knew what her position was). I was basically an outsider, but I tried my hardest to fit in and be friendly. However, the temporary supervisor was constantly on my case for little nit-picking things, no matter what I did. Every day it was some new thing. There were several cases where I did something, she told me it was wrong and to do it a different way, and then the next day when I did it the exact way she had told me to, she told me that was wrong and to do it the other way. I brought this up in a written/oral-counseling session I had (which had things on its list like: slouches in chair, bad posture, clothes not nice enough, not friendly with co-workers, bad attitude), but it was ignored. My personal nail in the coffin, the final event that got me fired, was when my wife was hospitalized at 6 1/2 months pregnant because she was dilated and going into labor. I was out 2 days and when I came back, I was fired within a week. My manager (the one who was bedding the boss) told me that I missed too much work. I told him my wife was in the hospital and they were trying to keep my child from being born way too early. It didn't matter. They had a paper trail of bogus things and all they needed was one last fake excuse. Here's the moral of the story: never, ever get involved with a company where everyone is related, if you aren't one of them.

Guest's picture
Guestface

11. Have you seen a job posting for your company that matches your job description?

Yeesss, they want me to train the guy too. I will to a point, but mostly everything wrong lol.

I'm not going to say who I work for or what I do because of well. duh.

No the work I do is extremely complex, very tedious, and you have to have a very keen eye on your work (to a point where microscopes are often used). that along with the fact that I alone bring in 90% of production and profit to my company and that there are VERY FEW people in the world who understand my work.

So I say let em fire me it'll funny to watch them go under

On a side note:

I've been doing this job about six years now used to love it, but now I wouldn't mind something less stressful. Got the grey hairs to prove it...and i'm only in my 20's :o (picture how Obamas hair looks on a young guy)...hell I wouldn't even mind delivering pizzas :P)

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Guest

If your boss recently hired a new teammate, and you suddenly got kicked to the curb, the project you are working on no longer seems like priority, and your boss are super buddies with your new co-worker, and hangs out with him all the time, that's a sure fire sign your job is on the line. It just happened to me.

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JimBob

This is such a great article! I wished that I had read this a long time ago. I was informed by Mgt a couple of months ago that a significant pay cut was coming (probably followed by a pink slip somewhere down the road). Many of the signs described above were evident, but subtle. Beware when the compliments stop coming regardless of what you do, or how hard you work! Also the answers to questions from my immediate boss were getting shorter, and more abrupt. The "thank yous" and "cudos" just stopped coming about 4 -5 months before hand. Things that used to win compliments just weren't working anymore. Nothing I did seemed to matter - the work seemed flawed and imperfect even though it was very good. People in the office just stopped visiting with me, but seemed to continue to visit with each other. I don't think that there is anything worse than feeling "shunned" by the staff when you're still doing a good job. Questions that I had about the process just didn't make sense, and the responses were irrational. Bottom line - it was all about cutting costs and protecting the sacred cows. I think that once the Company starts down this path, there are numerous reasons for moving on - most of all your sanity and self-respect. It is a slippery slope indeed!

JimBob

Guest's picture
Guest

Experiencing this at the moment. Thanks for sharing, I found it uplifting.

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luis bencosme

how can i prove to an employment dep.that your boss fire you if you don't used to punch in and out

Guest's picture
Guest

nice article, and i can answer a 3.5 YES to the questions. definitely, i am getting the boot.

reasons:

1) i have been transferred to a position of less responsibility;

2) my ex-boss resigned [i am not sure whether he resign willingly, or someone force him to pack & leave. until now, my ex-boss doesn't want to reveal it];

3) i am not in the loop for some of the important things;

4) jobs with no chance of success or impossible [imagine have to trace the whole network route for the company, with no high-tech tools or any specialize software, using only a LAN cable tester...sounds crazy].

anyway, i have prepared for this few weeks back, and i am leaving for good.

Guest's picture
Guest

This article and some of the comments below troubles me!

Many of these things listed above could also be seen as "Constructive Dismissal" according to some labour laws.

To anyone who is experiencing this, before you slink away thinking there's nothing you can do or that it's all your fault, be sure to talk to your local government labour board. Although these are all signs of getting fired, many of them are also illegal for a company to do.

Don't let the above words or some of the comments below deter you from standing up for your rights!

Guest's picture
Guest

21. have your little easily fixed mistakes been made into mountains of irredeemable Problems?

When they start calling you out for simple fixable things that would most of the time be fixed and forgotten, Yea they are out to get you..

(and if they write all that up on paper in landscape form to make it look like even more damage was done, they really don't like you.)

Guest's picture
JimBob

No doubt about it - you are right on, Guest! The other thing to watch out for is when they overlook successes, and no matter how well you do, or have done in the past, it is not good enough. They focus on the minutia. If you are being held to a higher standard that the office in general, then something is up - usually not a promotion. When management is questioned, they do not have rational answers, they do not want to discuss at any length, or they just aren't making sense any longer in relation to history. Heaven forbid if the "dirty trick syndrome" starts - in other words - the office is out to discredit you. That is the worst!

Guest's picture
Guest

Argh. 6/11/14/15/17 to a degree. Working remote makes combating these issues tough, lesson learned. I need to learn how to leverage my wins or they get swept under pretty quickly. An employee needs to show they are adding value to their workplace, don't always rely on others to take note as being humble can be your undoing.

As much as I hate the 'take credit for everything' guy/gal, I could have avoided #17 many times over by raising my hand. When you work remote, its best to highlight your wins or you eventually become invisible.

What an awful feeling, especially when I worked so hard and my results were above 4/6 of my peers . Fail. I guess the real ego smasher is going from a valued, high results, employee at other companies to just plain mediocre.
Meeting w/ manager pushed to tomorrow (Friday) , duh. .

Guest's picture
The Boss

I'm the one doing the firing. It sucks and makes me sad, but I'm a business start up who is about to double in clients and finally stabilize. And two of my assistants who've been with me since the beginning are now holding back the business. I keep delaying new clients while hoping my assistants will get on board, but it's not happening. They have now become passive-aggressive in their comments and attitude. Missing deadlines that cost me money and sleepless nights. Both of their excuses = "I didn't want to tell you I would miss the deadline because I knew it would make you mad." That did it for me. Time for a full-time, committed professional. But honestly I'm dropping hints to my assistants hoping they won't be shocked when I let them go (or even better they've found new jobs). They are wonderful women who work better with start up than growing companies.

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DEMAT

This is a great article. I have been recently let go from a job that I started to hate, but not career itself. There are a few things I can relate to, I definatly wasn't given a lot of work in the past 1-2 months and have not been really enagaged. My fault is that I haven't blown the wistle to my superiors for lack of mentorship that I was getting in the past year.So in return I was thrown under the bus. At least I learned something from this expereince that I must speak up:)

Guest's picture
Guest

There is a new one that wasn't mentioned, and is typical in call centers. You used to work and do great in an old account, that had reasonable goals. The call center gets a new account, and the new account seems to have zillions of different numbers to hit, and goals so high, that they are almost unattainable. Unattainable goal disease is another sign your job is going south, especially if you are also getting dinged and having to take the fall for things like not getting your survey passed because of something out of your control (example:customer could not get early upgrade due to policy, and wasn't happy, so they failed you) Company keeps passing policies that don't help you get your numbers, like having to do a warm transfer, which increases your call time, making your average too high, so they get to fire you, another example is a major infraction writeup, like a final warning suspension for seemingly trivial things, like a little scuff on a birthday cake or some other small similar thing, or cases where every time you get a final notice, your boss would have just fired you on the spot on each case, not even bothering with the process. A writeup for almost everything is another sign.