Things Your Boss Might Say (Or Do) That Should Really Worry You

man-358969_640“Knock, knock!”
“Who’s there?”
Boss hands employee a pink slip. “Not you, anymore!”

Employees are usually tuned in to how safe and secure their jobs are. You might not know the particulars, but when there’s a change in the air and it’s got something to do with you and your continued ability to draw a paycheck at the company you’re working for, well…that’s the kind of thing you tend to notice. Unfortunately, everyone’s “danger sense” is different, so if you’re picking up something but aren’t quite sure what it means, here are some things to look out for and check yourself against:

“Come in…close the door.”

Sure, this might be the start of a great conversation. It could be that you’re one of two people in the running for that big promotion. It could be that you’re such a trusted member of the team that you’re about to be handed some highly confidential information and the boss doesn’t want anyone else overhearing. Odds are though, that this conversation doesn’t end well for you.

“Now, about your review…”

This is a nice one. If this happens, you know that for whatever reason (rightly or wrongly…doesn’t really matter) they’re building a paper trail against you. If you try and defend your actions, those defenses will go completely unanswered. When the conversation starts like this, no matter how well you think you’ve performed, it won’t matter. They’re building a case to let you go. The decision has been made at this point. You’re a dead man (or woman) walking. They just have to finish going through the motions. You may as well accept it and break out your resume.

“I want you to hand that project off to (insert co-worker’s name).”

This is never a good sign. When the boss tells you to hand off a pet project you’ve been working on to someone else, it’s probably because you’re about to be shown the door and they want to start separating you from your work.

“Tell me about what you’re working on.”

Similar to the above. Either your boss doesn’t think you actually do much of anything and is asking you to justify your continued existence, or they’re making a laundry list of “stuff you do,” so they can farm it out after they cut you loose.

Sometimes though, what’s not being said is every bit as instructive as the above instances of things that are being said. For instance, if you suddenly stop getting invited to the big, important weekly meeting you were once a regular part of. If management in other departments start to suddenly avoid you. People in the middle, and upper-middle parts of the company stop taking your calls. Other people start randomly stopping by your desk and seem overly interested in what you’re doing, and of course, if you’ve noticed that there’s a new hire in the company that has most, if not all of your same skills.

Losing your job is never fun. I’m not going to sugar coat it and pretend otherwise. Having said that, it happens. It happens all the time. The best thing you can do for your career, long term, is to remain professional about it. Aloof. In fact, it’s better that they don’t see you sweat. Show them how smooth you are at working under pressure. Don’t wait for the axe to fall to start putting feelers out, do that the moment your “danger sense” tells you something is wrong. Don’t be the victim. Get ahead of it. Take control of it. It’s your future. Master it.


Mark D slept with lions in the jungle. No joke.