How to Tell If You're Fired (and Just Don't Know It)

It's no laughing matter. Management often makes its decisions methodically. You may already be on the hit list and not know it yet. Don't be paranoid, but do recognize the warning signs. JoAnn Hines outlines them here.

By JoAnn Hines, PharmaManufacturing.com's resident career expert

No one should be fired and be surprised about it. There are always warning signs. The trick is in learning how to recognize them and to have a plan of action. It pays to pick up on the subtle hints that allude to the ax falling.

Here is a checklist of early warning signs that could add up to impending doom:
    You are asked to update management on all your currents projects.

    You are pushed to wrap up longstanding projects.

    Your expense reports are closely scrutinized and require explanations.

    Time off for personal reasons is denied or questioned.

    Your office space is downsized or moved to a less desirable location.

    Your duties are becoming less critical to the company's success.

    You are asked to prepare a job description and explain your duties.

    Communications about your performance that used to be verbal suddenly are now put in writing.

    Your income is frozen for no apparent reason.

    No one invites you for drinks, lunch or social events.

    You no longer get asked to join key meetings or committees.

    You are copied on fewer key memos and internal communications.

    You have a general sense of unease at work.

    Other employees seem uncomfortable in your presence.
Pay Attention to the Boss
    Your boss seems distant and unavailable.

    He or she meets with you less frequently with a much shorter duration.

    You are suddenly given an unexpected performance review.

    Your boss seems inordinately interested in your contacts and resource base.

    Your boss starts making more of your decisions and directing outcomes.

    Your boss seems particularly interested in your project outcomes.
If you checked only one or two of these items, then you are probably safe for the time being. If you answered yes to several, it could be an early warning sign that there are problems ahead, and your boss is laying the ground work for your dismissal.

If you answered yes to a half dozen or more, it's time to update your resume. You are probably fired and just don't know it yet.

About the Author

JoAnn Hines "packages" people. She makes it easy for others to transform their careers in much the same way she did. Her "how to" workbooks, informative articles, and tutorials demonstrate the steps to take career and professional development to the next level. Hines believes in the power of her experience and advice. As a result, much of her advice is free or is offered for a nominal charge. To learn the ropes and "Package Yourself" for success, email her at pkgcoach@aol.com.

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