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Get Out Before you're Fired

The boss said, "Sorry, we don't need you any more."

Three people we know were devastated when they were fired.  At first, they said there had been no warning, but later, they recognized very clear signs they should have seen and acted upon.

1) Feeling unmotivated and angry
Dana loved her job and was the office superstar until the new boss assigned her work that didn't interest her.  Dana was upset and lost her motivation.  She had a legitimate beef, but foolishly thought she could hide her feelings.  But everyone read her feelings—loud and clear. Many people who hate their jobs wrongly believe others don't know.

2) Lack of promotions/Demotions
Brian's close relationship with the COO made him very influential.  Then, the COO started listening to another manager named Martha.  He overruled Brian on a few key decisions, and Martha took over some of Brian's responsibilities.  Brian still had his title, but he'd been demoted—and he was very vulnerable.  Instead of being in action to get out, Brian played along, and put on a happy face.  He didn't see—or couldn't admit--that he was on his way out.  If you're getting no positive signs about your job performance, the company may be looking for a replacement.

3) Being excluded, feeling out of the loop
Brian noticed he was "out of the loop."  He didn't hear about important events until it seemed everyone else knew them.  He wasn't invited to important project meetings.  When he asked why, he was told someone "forgot."  It became difficult to arrange meetings with the COO, and he felt isolated.

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4) Mysterious Improvement in Relationships
A thinly-veiled hostility permeated Matt's relationship with his supervisor.  A couple of times, they even had loud, explosive arguments.  Then, suddenly, things improved.  The boss was inexplicably pleasant.  Matt felt relieved.  He shouldn't have been.  He got a pink slip the next week.  Since the boss knew he was being let go, there was no reason to be hostile.

Beware of sudden change in your treatment—good or bad.  Ask this question:  "If this person knew I was about to be fired, would their behavior make sense?"

Sound familiar?  If so, it's time to take action.  Here's three things you can do.

1) Acknowledge the situation and negotiate a way out. Dana might have put her cards on the table, saying, "Obviously, this isn't working.  Can we have a discussion about phasing out?"  She could either negotiate severance and/or time to look for a new job.

2) Get yourself ready for your job search.Update and upgrade your resume, your LinkedIn profile, and other marketing materials.See a career coach, if you need to, so that you're clear about what's next for you and you have a solid plan for getting there.

3) Set up projects and outside-the-office activities, putting flexibility in your schedule to give you freedom to network and go on interviews.  Then crank up a job campaign pronto!

4) Consult a lawyer about available remedies, if you think you have a case for discrimination against you because you belong to a protected class:  race, creed, color, age, gender, etc..  Sometimes, the threat of a discrimination case can be more powerful than actually filing, and it can give you leverage and confidence in negotiating severance.

Be in action.  Don't wait to be let go.

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