13 things to do when your boss is trying to fire you

Updated on September 15, 2023
13 things to do when your boss is trying to fire you

Do you think that your boss is trying to fire you?

Is it because of your performance at work? Is it because the company or the business is going through tough times?

Could it be that your boss simply has a personal grudge against you?

In any case, there are certain signs that might indicate that your boss is indeed trying to fire you.

In this article, we will go over these ominous signs, and then I will give you comprehensive advice on what to do when your boss is trying to get rid of you.

How do you know your boss is going to fire you

How do you know your boss is going to fire you

Here we will go over how to tell if your boss is about to fire you by observing some of the most common signs.

However, remember that just one or two signs could easily be misinterpreted. That is why you need to look for multiple signs that might suggest that your boss is about to fire you.

1. You got a poor performance review recently

You can tell a lot about how your boss sees you from a performance review. In case you received a lot of negative feedback during the meeting, then this is a major sign that the situation is bad and you could be fired soon.

Be mindful of the fact that your boss might be building a case against you in order to fire you in a justified way. Here are the different ways your boss might be testing you.

2. Sudden decrease in workload

You’ve been working normally until recently. But now you are given less and less work. How come?

If you are a valued employee who is expected to do great work, then it makes no sense to be given less work.

Also, you are being excluded from the most important project. You are being given low-priority work.

This could be a sign that you are no longer trusted to handle important tasks and projects. Your boss is limiting their reliance on you and making you feel incompetent.

3. You are being excluded from meetings

Important work meetings are happening and you are no longer part of them. You didn't get the memo, you didn't get the invite.

Your input and opinion are no longer relevant because your boss knows that soon you will be gone.

4. Vague answers about your future in the company

So you muster the courage to ask your boss about what is going on and all you get is unintelligible gibberish and ambiguous pre-rehearsed lines? Something definitely isn't right.

This means that your boss is aware that you have noticed that something isn't right so they are stalling.

They don't want to give you a straight answer because it is not convenient for them or they simply lack the courage to have the conversation in person.

They may be hoping that you'll leave on your own so they wouldn't have to be the bearer of bad news.

5. You are being micromanaged

All of a sudden your boss starts breathing in your neck. They are constantly monitoring your work and staying on top of your tasks. How come?

This could be a sign that they have lost their trust in you and they are no longer happy with the work you do.

Naturally, this could be part of their case against you. Later on, they might say something like “I constantly have to micromanage you and this can't go any longer so I'll have to fire you.

6. Strained communication

It seems that your boss is avoiding you. When you try to talk to them, they just give you vague responses.

They ignore your DMs and emails. At the same time, they are being open and approachable with your coworkers. This is a sure sign that your boss has a problem with you.

7. Your coworkers act strange

It seems that your coworkers have adopted some of this strange behavior that you see from your boss. They ignore you, they give you vague replies when you ask them something, and they no longer laugh at your silly jokes.

Could it be that your boss told them? Could it be that they have turned them against you? It is possible that they know that you will be fired soon so they no longer wish to associate themselves with you.

What to do when your boss is trying to fire you

What to do when your boss is trying to fire you

If your boss is actively trying to fire you, then this is a sure sign of a toxic work environment.

In my opinion, you should seriously ask yourself if it is worth staying at this job.

Still, there are certain things that you could do in order to protect yourself when your boss is trying to fire you. Here is what you can do.

1. Remain calm and professional

Sure, this is a very stressful and unpleasant situation but is important to keep your cool and remain professional.

Keep in mind that your boss might be trying to provoke you to do something crazy. And something like this will only build their case against you.

The best way to do so is to stay focused on your work and remain as productive as possible.

2. Document interactions and communications

If you care about preserving your job, then you need to build your own case against your malicious boss. This means that you have to collect evidence on your own.

Start keeping a record of all interactions and communications with your boss, especially those that contain some kind of provocation or injustice toward you.

Remember that you can also take screenshots with your phone and computer when it comes to online communication.

3. Don't get involved in personal conflicts

A personal conflict at work can become a black mark on your reputation. That is why it is not worth it to involve yourself in such matters.

Remember to always seek the professional route toward conflict resolution at work.

4. Try to talk to your boss

At some point, the adult thing to do is to stop speculating and playing mind games. Simply ask to talk to your boss in person and have an honest conversation.

Tell them that you feel like you are being treated differently and ask them if it is just your imagination or if something is indeed going on.

5. Seek mediation

In case you are unable to resolve the situation with your boss on your own, then the next logical step is to seek a resolution through other proper internal company channels.

It is time to involve the HR department and present your case. After all, conflict resolution is part of their job.

6. Seek allies

Share what you are going through with one or more of your coworkers, particularly the ones that you trust the most. Could it be that your boss is trying to fire somebody else as well?

Could it be that they are treating one or more of your coworkers the same way? Perhaps you will be able to unite against your tyrannical boss.

7. Know what your rights are

Check your state employment laws and particularly the ones related to workplace harassment and discrimination.

If you think that this treatment you are receiving is targeted, hateful, and malicious then it is possible that you are being discriminated against.

8. Keep evidence of your work performance

If possible, document the efforts that you make related to your work. You can create a simple Google document where you log your hours, make lists of things you have done, or link to relevant resources.

This record could, later on, serve as evidence that you have been doing your job diligently.

9. Maintain your professional network

If you are a valued and capable professional, then those around you will see your worth. And they will stand with you in case you are being fired unfairly.

So stay in touch with the people who value you professionally. Who knows, they might present you with a better job opportunity eventually.

10. Have a conversation with THEIR boss

If all else fails, why not go have a conversation with the boss of your boss and tell them what they’ve been up to?

You can explain that this is a last-ditch effort on your end and after this, you’ll have no other option but to leave because of the terrible treatment that you’ve been the subject of.

11. Seek legal advice

If you are able to afford it and the stakes are too high, then it makes sense to seek legal advice. There are many lawyers who specialize in employment cases.

Surely you will be able to find operating in your area and talk to them. They will become familiar with your case and tell you what are your best options.

12. Tell your friends and family

It's great to think about how to protect yourself when your boss is trying to fire you but don't forget that this is a mentally exhausting situation and a little support from the people close to you can come a long way.

Share about what you are going through with your friends and family, perhaps somebody will be able to offer you valuable advice based on your particular situation.

13. Quietly look for other job opportunities

If all else fails and there is nothing more that you can do, it would be best to seek other job opportunities. Besides, what kind of a company allows such unfair treatment toward its employees?

My experience with a boss who wanted to fire a coworker

As you might know, if you’ve been following Office Topics, I've been working at the same international tech company for over a decade now and I have generally never had any major issues with my boss.

However, a coworker of mine (who eventually became a good friend of mine) had to deal with a boss who wanted to fire him.

My friend, let's call him Gavin, was part of a small team within the company that was responsible for online advertising of the company's services.

Gavin was always a bit of a rebel, never really adhering to the company culture and norms. However, he was diligent in his work and always did his best.

One summer, the team's performance came to a bit of a slump. The team lead was being grilled by the company's higher-ups for the poor performance. Eventually, she decided to blame it all on Gavin.

One day, out of the blue, Gavin was called into the HR office where his team leader and an HR rep gave him the news – he was being fired.

But here's the thing. The news wasn't really a surprise for Gavin. He somewhat expected that this was going to happen because his team leader was doing a lousy job and she was often blaming it all on Gavin.

But Gavin didn't really care all that much. He welcomed the firing, especially because his contract guaranteed him a solid compensation with which he could live comfortably for a few months.

Gavin was happy to leave the toxic work environment. Eventually, he landed a new job with better pay and benefits. Good for Gavin!

Can a boss fire you without telling you

One of the harsh realities of working a job in the United States is that your boss can fire you at any time when you are employed “at-will” (which makes up over 70% of the workforce in the US).

Essentially, if you are employed “at-will” you can be fired without an official warning. And your boss is not obliged to provide a reason for the firing as well.

However, if you have a work agreement or a contract that specifically outlines job security for a certain period of time, then your boss can’t fire you during this time without giving a legitimate reason.

Frequently asked questions when your boss is trying to fire you

Should I confront my boss directly if I feel like I'm about to be fired?

You should confront your boss directly in case you have good reason to believe that you will be fired, especially if you have done nothing wrong and you care about keeping your job.

What can I do to improve my situation if I feel like my job is at risk?

It all comes down to the reasons you think that your job might be at risk. In case it is related to your performance at work, then simply work diligently to improve yourself.

Should I start looking for another job immediately if I suspect I'm about to be fired?

Yes, it is a good idea to seek other job opportunities if you think your current employment is at risk. This way you will provide yourself with a psychological safety net and you will be more confident.

What should I do if I'm being fired for an unjust or discriminatory reason?

If you believe your termination is discriminatory or unjust, it's crucial to know your rights. Laws such as the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, or the Americans with Disabilities Act offer protections against wrongful termination.

Written by:
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co-founder / office worker
Alex has been an office worker for more than 10 years. He is dedicated to helping other office workers to achieve the perfect life-work balance through well-being, effective communication, and building productive habits.

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