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Are You About to be Fired?

Updated on April 9, 2016
PegCole17 profile image

Peg worked for a global telecom company as a project manager traveling the US. She owned her own business and worked in a variety of fields.

You Have a Gut Feeling Something is Wrong

You have an uneasy feeling at work. Something is not quite right but you can't put your finger on it. Could it be, nah, there's no way they would fire you. You're indispensable, right?

Your boss comes in to work and sees you heading toward her office. She quickly ducks inside and closes the door. There might as well be a do not disturb sign posted. But you knock anyway. She looks at her watch and frowns. But you ignore it and plod forward, inching your way into the room. She remains standing, blocking the chairs in front of her desk. She's been avoiding you lately, not returning your voice mails and never seems to have time for you.

The writing is on the wall.

What are the Signs?

How to know you are about to be fired.
How to know you are about to be fired. | Source

Five Indications You're About to be Fired - One

Your relationship with the boss has deteriorated over time. While you used to be the go-to person she called on for everything, the golden child, now she no longer gives you the time of day. The two of you were like sisters. Why, you even invited her to your wedding and she attended. What happened?

In the good old days, you fetched lunch for the two of you and shared a bit of gossip while you ate in her office at the round table. Now, your offers to pick up lunch and bring it in are accepted, but she conveniently forgets to reimburse you for the expense, thanks you politely and tells you that she'll eat her lunch later. She's got a meeting to attend and you're not invited.

Stop! Danger of Avalanches.
Stop! Danger of Avalanches. | Source

You're About to be Fired - Two

You walk by the conference room and the door is closed. As you pass the glass window beside the door, you notice there's a meeting going on inside. The key people you generally interact with on projects, your team, are sitting around the conference table. They avoid any eye contact as you peer through the window.

Back at your desk, you frantically check your Outlook reminders to see if you missed the invitation. Nope, your calendar is free all day long.

Later, you know your manager is in their office and you phone their extension. The call goes directly to voice mail. You decide to walk over to their area when, suddenly their phone line lights up and you can see they are on the phone. You stand at their door waiting to be acknowledged. They spin around with their back toward you and speak in hushed tones to the person on the line.

Looking for Upward Mobility


Three, Four, Shut the Door

There have been rumors of a merger with a larger company. You feel certain that your qualifications would outweigh those of anyone with the same function at the other company. Your boss doesn't feel the same way. In fact, you're getting a new boss. It's someone from the new company who has their own team and favorite people. Your old manager is set for a promotion and has decided not to take you along to the new department.

The people you formerly went to lunch with, shared birthday parties, wedding showers and birth announcements with in the past no longer include you in their gatherings.

The boss has started leaving work on your chair when you vacate your cubicle even for a moment, rather than interact with you.

Proud Mary - Ike and Tina Turner 1971

Observation - Five

Your boss's window faces the parking lot. You pull into your normal spot and glance at the clock on the dashboard. Uh, oh, you're fifteen minutes late and she's at her desk glaring at you as you gather your things from the car and make your way inside.

Your computer boots up as slow as Christmas. Everyone else in the department got a new laptop but you're still using the old model with a monitor the size of a Subaru. When you're finally signed in, an appointment reminder pops up on your calendar. Today at two o'clock you've been scheduled for a meeting with your manager. For a brief moment, you think things might be getting better until you read the subject line of the memo: Performance Evaluation.

At the meeting, you discover that your boss has invited the Human Resources representative to join you for this intimate, closed-door chat. The manager pulls out a familiar looking form and hands it to you. It's a performance improvement program (PIP). This is your first written notice that your work is not up to the company standards.

Top Ten Getting Fired Movie Scenes

Was it Something in Your Cubicle?

Your cubicle may be your workplace during the day, but it still belongs to the company. Their guidelines rule when it comes to bringing things to work.

Bringing your pets to work is generally not acceptable, unless, you work for a company that allows pets in the workplace like the SPCA. People have allergies and sensitivities to birds, turtles, fish, dogs, cats or other household family members with dander.

Storing bottles of alcohol in your desk drawer at work can sometimes result in dismissal from your duties. This may seem far fetched, but from personal experience I can assure you it isn't. A director at a former workplace was dismissed for frequent trips to his car for nips of refreshment. The mints and chewing gum couldn't conceal his on-the-job drinking habit.

Putting up posters that reflect any sort of discriminatory message is also discouraged. Swastikas, nude photos, risque magazines, flyers, or material that denigrates people of a different race or culture may be in violation of the company policies.

People seem offended for the most mundane of reasons in today's work environment. If you choose to bring food to the office, pungent, offensive odors (aromas to you) may not be appropriate in a shared space. Strong smells like pickles or onions, raw fish (Sushi) or other foods that impart an odor that lingers long after the meal need to be rethought. Strong smelling perfume falls into this category as well.

It needs to be said that items which are considered weapons should not be brought to work unless you are in law enforcement, have a concealed weapons permit or the company allows and encourages such items at work.

The Office Manipulator - Is this You?

Euphemisms You Might Hear from Your Former Boss

When they make the decision to fire you, there are a number of ways they might choose to tell you. Here are a few classics. Perhaps you've heard one or more that aren't included. Share these if you will in the comments section.

  • You're not a good fit for the company
  • We've decided to let you go.
  • We're going to let you train your replacement from the new company.
  • I'd like you write a job description of all your duties with the company, with a list of your passwords and sign-ins to all internal systems.
  • It won't be necessary for you to finish out the day. You can leave right now.
  • Be sure to pack up all your things in this convenient storage box.
  • The guard will escort you out of the building.
  • Turn in your badge and identification on your way out.
  • Your job has been automated.

Success Strategy

Learn as much as you can about your profession and keep an updated resume handy.
Learn as much as you can about your profession and keep an updated resume handy. | Source

With all sincerity, I hope none of these scenarios apply to you or a coworker. Believe it or not, each one of these situations are familiar to me whether as recipient or as the manager in question. Some of these things can be avoided and some may not. My advice: Always have a Plan B.

© 2015 Peg Cole


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    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Breathing, It is good of you to drop by and add some thoughtful ideas to the comments. Thanks so much for reading this and for your input.

    • breathing profile image


      3 years ago from Bangladesh

      A very good article describing briefly the symptoms that a boss wants to fire you. Really you can get an alarming knock if any of the described symptoms take place. For that you will have to be really careful about your work. Also every person is different. If the boss changes you will have to work with the new boss in a way that he is satisfied with you. This is very much important. Even many good employees fail to adapt themselves to the new boss and eventually end up losing up the job. So you must always work in a manner that whoever the boss is, you are his favorite or at least in good terms with him.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Teaches12345, You're right about this not being pleasant for either party. Thanks for watching the firing video. I found it to be funny, too.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      3 years ago

      You have listed most of the signs people should take seriously on firing. Never a pleasant situation for either party. I love the video on top firing scenes. Arnold is a great opening and Jerry McGuire is classic!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Oh yes, Genna. You could write the book on the perils of being an entrepreneur. Customer service is definitely the key to success and staying one step ahead of the customer's needs as well. It is a tough world whether working in corporations or running and owning your own business. I agree about firing some clients. As a salon owner, I remember some customers whose business was detrimental to the salon environment; spreading negativity and disdain and never happy with the end result.

      Thanks so much for adding your thoughts and insights here and for the kind words.

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      As a self-employed entrepreneur, people often remark that there is no chance of my being fired. Oh, yes there is...a client can drop you at any moment. And then there are those clients you wouldn't mind firing. :-) I've been rather lucky thus far (knock on wood); but I try to listen to my instincts, and go out of my way to service clients in every way possible to anticipate their needs. The corporate world is a mine field; and you have provided a very savvy navigational guide... to watch for those signs and develop a more heightened sense of awareness. You are a professional, Peg, in every sense of the word.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      These are hard times, Aviannovice. It is troublesome when downsizing does occur, and to be one of those that remain along with the increased workload of the missing coworkers.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      In these hard times, when everyone gets more and more work piled upon them, I'm surprised that "downsizing" doesn't happen a lot more. Obviously, I am being polite.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Bravewarrior, That is an interesting development at your workplace. It gets weird when the communication and rapport stops suddenly. You know something is about to happen and it's only natural to worry. Glad you left by choice rather than the other way.

      Some incidents like that could kill a friendship. You are among the few who are able to look past the strange treatment. I've had bosses who were about to get fired, too. They begin to act unpredictably and some look for a scapegoat.

      Thanks for sharing this story about your workplace. It shines the light from the other direction. Hope your new job is going well.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 

      3 years ago from Central Florida

      Peg, this happened to me a few years ago, but sort of in reverse. We were a three person accounting department with a new Controller. I was supposed to train her, but she felt she was beneath that. Anyway, eventually the three of us became close. We'd hold a pow-wow every morning, at which time we'd discuss what we did the night before, our favorite TV shows, then move on to what we each had planned for the day's work activities.

      One day the pow-wows stopped. In-person communication stopped. Suddenly, email was the only way our boss would communicate with us. We didn't know if she was mad at us or what. Then she asked both of us to write up detailed job descriptions. We thought for sure we were going to be fired although there was no reason to fire us (I was the Accounting Manager and very good at my job). Turns out the Controller was the one who was under the gun. When upper management learned she didn't know how to do our jobs, I guess the caca hit her fan and she blew it all our way.

      Eventually, everything went back to normal, but to this day my co-worker have no clue why we were treated so poorly. Ironically, I left the company, then the girl who worked under me left, and finally the Controller gave her notice. We're all still friends and get together when we can. However, that "incident" has never been brought up. Strange...

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Pstraubie, Yes, most people would know something was amiss if these things were happening at work. Some are in denial about it being true and yet are shocked to get notice.

      Glad you never experienced these situations personally.

      Hope you are well.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      3 years ago from sunny Florida

      O not good...I would have been sick had I felt any of these indicators when I was still teaching. I was so blessed to work with wonderful principals over the years even when I was an administrator.

      Am I off base here or wouldn't someone who is about to be fired kind of 'know' that something was amiss before all of these 'hints' were dropped?

      Thanks for sharing....

      Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Sujaya Venkatesh, Thanks for dropping by.

    • sujaya venkatesh profile image

      sujaya venkatesh 

      3 years ago

      world offers a plenty

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Dana, The true feeling is one of heartbreak, that's for sure. And you've accurately described the feeling of betrayal and loss that comes along with a layoff or a dismissal. I survived many, many reductions in force with a multi-billion dollar global corporation and watched my friends as they were escorted out. It truly is about the bottom line. My husband was not as fortunate from his past Fortune 50 companies. He has been laid off five times in the twenty-six years we've been married.

      Thank you for the heartfelt comment and I'm glad you enjoyed the music video. I love that one.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      MarleneB, Signs, signs, everywhere the signs...yes these are universal codes that seem to be in every workplace. I share your enthusiasm for the new life that comes after working for decades. The corporate pressure is definitely not something I miss at all.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Ms. Dora, It is good to be away from these situations at the workplace. Of course, retirement comes with its own set of new challenges. Thank you for dropping by and for the great comment.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      3 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      My biggest heartbreak was when I worked for a 500 fortune company and they laid off the whole department. There were warning signs and even gossip from the other departments but the company kept reassuring us it was just gossip. In the end it wasn't gossip but true and it took me a long time to get over that "betrayal" feeling. In the end we received the treatment you described. The- leave your badge with the guard. And, we were escorted out the building like terrorist from people we laughed and joked with for years.

      It taught me a lesson to never keep my eggs in one basket, always have a plan B, and to go into any job, especially corporate, understanding your job is always looking for a way to save money so therefore there is no such thing as job security. At the end of the day business is just business. Thanks for including that Tina and Ike Video- I loved it!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 

      3 years ago from USA

      Yep! There are always signs and you covered a good majority of them. I have actually been through some of them, but that's all behind me now. I'm retired and loving life.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      3 years ago from The Caribbean

      Peg, you you just about covered all the different scenarios that lead up to being fired. So glad I don't have those fears anymore, but I walked through them as you described them. Good heads up information for those still in the workforce.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Sorry to hear that, Mary. Yes, I also was nearly "let go" when my new boss after a merger found out that I was making a whole lot more than she was. I don't think I would be too helpful to someone who replaced me if they continued to need direction from my experience at the job they took from me.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      3 years ago from New York

      Well, well, well. Up until five years ago I could say I've never had the pleasure of being let go, but then....seems they decided I was making too much money (ha) and it was time for me to retire. The irony is the person they hired to replace me made more money and called me every day for six months to ask what to do!

      Such is life. We win some, we lose some....and now I'm here on HP with all my wonderful friends.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Frank, This is life in the corporate world. Sometimes it is a bit grainy. Thanks for reading and for stopping in to comment.

      I'm going to download another of your fabulous books to my Kindle.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      3 years ago from Shelton

      wow, this has to be a real life shaker, never been in that situation, but I'm sure it is nerve racking.. sadly I enjoyed the read though

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Jodah, It's the only way to be sure of job satisfaction and longevity. I'm sure that your wife is a great boss with a lot of favoritism on your part. Thanks for taking time to read this and for the kind remarks.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      3 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Been there, done that Peg. Fortunately I work from home and no longer have a boss to answer too...well other than my wife :) Good hub.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Drbj, bittersweet really describes it. Your job certainly had its challenges in training people to do a most difficult thing. What good advice that was. Usually, they are not sorry, just glad when it's done.

      Thank you for the visit and sage words. I always like seeing you.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      3 years ago from south Florida

      Oh, what bittersweet deja vu you evoked, Peg, with this realistic description of job terminations. In one of my previous lives, I trained managers to give employees the sad news in the most positive manner possible.

      One segment of my advice was never tell the departing employee that you are 'sorry.' Even if you are. Keep it as impersonal as possible.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Maria, I hoped you would enjoy the interlude with Tina Turner. Can't think about this topic without humming this melody in my head. Rollin'down the river. Yes, we definitely survived workin' for the man.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi RebeccaMealey, I love your play on words, "Good Job". Thanks for reading and for the positive remarks. I was fired from a job at a restaurant, too. The boss brought in his new wife to replace me.

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      I myself 'left a good job in the city'... oh let's face it, the patients were the good part...

      ...but I'd rathet be 'rollin down the river' than be thrown under the bus by my toxic former bosses - who made Hitler seem like a pussy cat.

      Thank heavens for our sense and sense of humor...and LOVE me some Tina Turner too!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      3 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      An enjoyable article, and helpful for many, too. I lost a waitressing job in college. Not the best feeling. I love your perspective, and what a unique and interesting topic. Good job!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hello Fpherj48, So good to see you today. Thanks for watching the video and for letting me know you got a giggle from this. I've been on both ends of the firing stick, the firer and the fire e. Either way it lends to a lot of lost sleep, before, during and afterward.

      You know, once I discovered the value of Plan B things went more smoothly for me.

    • fpherj48 profile image


      3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Great hub, Peg and I loved the video. I enjoyed the way you describe the not-so-subtle hints about the possibility that someone is about to be fired! LOL You made me giggle.

      Never been fired, but have fired plenty of sorry employees. It's a very difficult thing to do------the FIRST time. After that it get easier! LOL.

      Plan B is a good idea, Peg.....and not just regarding employment!!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Hi Flourish, I'm glad to have the input of someone who has the inside scoop on this type of thing. Thanks for coming by.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      3 years ago from USA

      Your description is accurate and I'm sure engenders much stress. I used to talk with many employees who had a sense the axe was about to fall, and often they were right!

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Billybuc, Being asked to resign is pretty much the same thing without the stigma. If you get fired from your present job, there is reason to worry. Those bunnies and quail may get the upper hand and take charge.

      BTW, congratulations on your latest book release. I like the looks of the cover. I'm still reading the last one you wrote.

      I wish I had waited for a severance package instead of jumping ship. It would have been worth all the years of pressure. No, wait, I take that back.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I was asked to resign once. I guess, technically, that's not being fired, but the result was the same. Only difference is I received a severance package resigning instead of nothing if fired. Now I'm my own boss so I think I'm safe. :)

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Sweet Martie, Oh, that sinking, stinking feeling when you've reached a dead end, how well I know it. I love your humor when you said, "I've quit a job or three..." Me, too! And I shook the dust off my feet when I left.

      Sometimes, when an impasse is reached it's better for both parties to make a fresh start. I believe it's better to leave voluntarily rather than wait for the ax to drop (or feel "like a balloon hitting a sharp object").

      I was happy to see your comment here. Thank you.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      My dear Mckbirdbks, You and I both know that people who are promoted to management roles are not necessarily the good guys. Often they are the ones with a thick skin who can skim the surface of a good idea, present it as their own and manage to get a promotion and raise out of it. Worker bees like ourselves tend to think that hard work and doing the right thing will be rewarded. Often we are disappointed.

      Thanks for finding the humor in these paragraphs that encapsulate my corporate career: the good, the bad and the fired.

      About your career, I think you chose wisely when it came to drinking the Kool-Aid or not. I stuck it out far longer than I should have and bear the scars to prove it.

      Thanks so much for stopping in to read this and for the fine comment.

    • PegCole17 profile imageAUTHOR

      Peg Cole 

      3 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Dear Snakeslane, You must thank Ms. Nellianna for that fabulous word: consummate. I love it. And I like that you were first to comment on this one, fresh of the printing press. Believe me, I have gotten the boot more than once, sometimes my fault, other times, not. It taught me a lot about life and the business environment - swimming with sharks.

      Thank you for dropping in and for the kind words.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      3 years ago from South Africa

      Oh, it must be a devastating experience from beginning to end - that suspicion that you have reached a dead end. I was never fired, but I did quit a job or three after battling for a couple of months with negativeness, discontentment and that awful feeling of being in a dark tunnel not able to see a gimps of light ahead. When one feels like this, quitting just happens on a specific day - like a balloon hitting a sharp object. Bang! Fortunately, when I look back, I can say I have done the right thing at the right time.

    • mckbirdbks profile image


      3 years ago from Emerald Wells, Just off the crossroads,Texas

      Hello Peg - You seemed to have followed my career closely. I was fired, more than once, usually by a morally corrupt person 'just following orders' - You covered the topic well and I saw a lot of humor, reading between the lines. You survived the corporate world. It is not an easy thing to do and there are few spiritual rewards. It is an unrewarding life.

      As a side note, I barely had the energy to watch the backup dances in the Ink & Tina video. Those were the days.

    • snakeslane profile image

      Verlie Burroughs 

      3 years ago from Canada

      Dear Peg, you are the consummate (got to thank Nellieanna for that big word) professional in everything you set your hand to. Can't imagine you getting the brush off, but yes, in the working world we live in today, there is an awful sense of insecurity. Good Hub (series, I like that!)


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