Suspect you're being "managed out?" These are the signs to look for, and here's what to do.
You have a new boss. Or your boss has a new boss. Or your company has been undergoing some sort of managerial shake-up.
You carry on as usual, thinking none of this affects you, but then you start to notice things. Suddenly, you are being micromanaged. Small errors are treated like capital crimes. You are left out of important meetings and email strings. The boss is always too busy to talk with you and may now communicate only via email. You are assigned the least-important tasks, or tasks that no one (including you) wants to do.
You may even discover, through someone other than your boss, that responsibilities and perks that were once yours are no longer yours. Maybe you are even asked to train a new worker, only to discover that he or she is slowly taking over your job.
All of these are very passive-aggressive ways of conveying that you are in trouble. Many managers go this route rather than simply leveling with you.
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What should you do?
First and foremost, recognize that in the end you may well have to find a new job. In fact, you should be starting to build a Plan B right now. Talk with your mentors. Put out feelers. Activate that network you’ve worked so hard to cultivate over the years.
Meanwhile, you owe it to yourself to try to find out what’s going on. Do this by going to your boss and asking directly what the problem is and suggesting steps to rectify it. If the situation has not dragged on too long, maybe you can turn it around by strenuously and sincerely displaying your commitment to your job and company. Do remember to remain calm and unemotional. And do document this conversation by summarizing it in an email to your boss.
Warning: Going forward, you will need to show world-class professionalism, a high level of success in performing in the face of adversity and an ability to “forget” — i.e., don’t hold a grudge.
However, as is sometimes the case, the problem may have nothing to do with you or your performance. It’s bigger than you. That’s why you need to be ready with that Plan B.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.