July 11

Signs your boss wants you to leave (why it happens and how to overcome it)


You never want to be in this situation. Where you are working your heart out for your boss, but somehow or rather, you sense that you boss can’t really be bothered, and actually wants you to leave.

What are the signs? But more importantly, what should you do when you see these signs? Should you stay to try and change your boss’ impression, or should you leave?

Signs your boss wants you to leave
if your boss is screaming at you, it may be time to reconsider your role

To be clear, I’m not an expert. If you’re looking for a PHD, I don’t have that. But I had the personal lived experience of seeing the signs that my boss didn’t want me there, although on the surface, it looked like he did.

This article shares my experience and also what I’ve heard from other clients I’ve worked with in the past.

A story of ejection

In October 2020, after a disagreement with my manager, my boss started putting me on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). On the surface, he said this would help me to improve and give me a clear, structured and systematic way to improve my work. But when the plan was executed, my direct supervisor had little experience in terms of guiding someone to improve. It was more like a checklist exercise where she rated me on the improvement points listed.

But I didn’t improve beyond that.

Signs your boss wants you to leave
I didn’t seem to improve, even with a performance improvement plan

This plan started on 1 Feb 2021, and for the next 6 months, I was supposed to work through the issues raised. That was when I began to see how my boss was beginning to show signs of wanting me to leave.

Why this happens

But before we look at the signs, we need to look at why this happens. That might be a question you are facing.

Why are you being shown the door, even though you are working your heart out?

There are several reasons, but here are some of the most common.

Your boss or your teammate is insecure

I remember the first time I gave an idea to a colleague regarding a programme. My colleague shared this with the team leader.

Hours later, the leader sent out an email, copying the whole team, telling me that I had to consult him before I shared any ideas, and that

There is no ‘I’ in team.

I took it to mean that I was lacking in teamwork.

But I come to realise that some bosses and leaders may be insecure about their colleague, or worse still, a subordinate being better than them.

Signs your boss wants you to leave
Do you trust your team? But does your team trust you?

They realise that you could possibly outshine them, and take their job. They are scared, and start to usher you towards the door.

As harsh as this sounds, this is part of the game. Some people are just insecure, and scared that others are better than them.

They need to please the team

During the last day of my work, I asked my boss why he had shown another manager the door.

I had a good relationship with her.

But the rest of the team was not happy. So she had to go.

This made me realise that sometimes, you may be the scapegoat for the team’s unhappiness. You may be sacrificed to please the rest of the team. No matter how hard you work, if certain influential people have been offended by you, and think that you should go, then you will slowly see yourself being ushered towards the door.

You’ve made mistakes

As much as we would like to say that we can learn from our mistakes, that’s easier said than done. Some companies may not be as forgiving of mistakes, choosing instead to ‘exit’ you than to help you learn from your mistakes.

How do you know the signs?

The boss starts giving you less work

This is the clearest sign.

For me, prior to this PIP, I was taking on more and more projects that solved thorny issues in the company.

  1. Digital enhancements
  2. Programmes
  3. Research
Signs your boss wants you to leave
Your responsibilities become like falling pins

But following this PIP, my scope of responsibilities was decreased. But I also found myself being asked less for my opinion regarding matters. It felt like I was just consuming resources, taking my salary and going home, rather than genuinely contributing to the work that was being done.

If you see your responsibility steadily being handed off to someone else, that’s the clearest sign that the boss may be looking to phase you out of the company.

You see your influence reducing, and your ability to push through ideas decrease

You want to do your best work with the ideas you bring. But as you begin to be shown the door, you will find your influence steadily dropping. You will see your ideas being gently shown the door too.

After all, if you’re not going to stay for long, then there’s no point taking on your ideas. You will leave anyway.

Colleagues stop mixing with you

In companies, word travels fast. If your boss doesn’t like you, the rumour mill starts spinning. You will find yourself being frozen out and people beginning to exclude you from conversations.

  • You will see water cooler conversations stop or soften when you pass.
  • You will see cHow to get along with co workersolleagues averting their eyes from you.
  • You will see ‘friends’ stop talking to you.

All these are an unfortunate side effect of the game you’re playing at work.

What do you do?

Stop trying to change opinions

My biggest mistake after getting the PIP was staying. I thought I could change the boss’ opinion of me and thereby rebuild my career from the ashes.

I turned down a great job offer when it came.

Rebuilding my career, just didn’t happen.

As the Westlife song goes,

If your heart’s not in it, for real, please don’t try to fake what you don’t feel.

If your heart is not in the job, and you’re sensing that people are beginning to shun you, it will not be the best place to do your best work.

Signs your boss wants you to leave
If you’re seen as the worst member of the team, don’t try changing that impression. Just move on.

Don’t try to change someone else. The only person you can change is yourself. If you find your boss no longer welcome to you as a staff, it’s time to go.

Go where you’re welcomed, not tolerated

If your sixth sense tells you that the boss wants you to leave, it probably isn’t wrong.

You’re only reading this article for confirmation of your worst fears. Don’t keep reading. Do something about it.

Doing something is about going to someplace where the people want and welcome you. Staying where you are now, where you are tolerated, is just waiting for the axe to chop.

Why wait?

Move on.

What about the money?

I know. You may be afraid of how to leave and live, without a job lined up.

There are several approaches to this.

  1. You can start using your time in the company to find a job.
  2. Or you can quit without a job lined up.

Doing this may be scary, but it may not be as scary as you think.

Take time now to:

  1. Find out how much money you really need a month to survive
  2. See what you can cut away from your expenses
  3. Assess how much savings you have and how long you can last with them

Don’t think too much, but take more action

A man of wisdom is a man of action, not one who thinks about action.

Carlos Castenada

If you’re reading this, chances are, you’re sensing that your boss wants you out. This may have just confirmed the feelings you have. Do something about it, don’t keep waiting.

Waiting will only keep you stuck.


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