Top 10 warning signs that you’re about to get fired

by Stephen H

If you look out for the signs, there is a good chance that you can recognize when you are in danger of losing your job and you can take the opportunity to change how you are perceived and address the problem before it gets that far. 

It’s very rare that someone is fired out of the blue, even when the business is doing badly and there is a desire to cut costs, the staff will know that this is going on.  Often it is not inevitable that when things are going bad for you at work that you will be fired. If you look out for the signs, there is a good chance that you can recognize when you are in danger of losing your job and you can take the opportunity to change how you are perceived and address the problem before it gets that far.

If you leave it too late and are involved in a formal process of performance improvement, it is a lot harder to deal with the situation positively.  You will be demotivated and the business will already have a formed a view of your contribution to business. The ten critical signs to look out for are:

1)   You are no longer consulted on future plans or are not invited to important meetings in which you should have been a key contributor.  If people are forming the view that you are not going to be in your position for the long term, you may get sidelined.  It’s a difficult position to deal with as you will not necessarily know what is happening and how you can contribute to try and redeem the situation.  My suggestion would be to arrange a meeting with you line manager and candidly discuss the situation.  Tell them that you are feeling sidelined and ask for support in identifying the problem.  This should lead to an open discussion about any problems that need to be addressed. It is just possible that there is another explanation, and hearing this might help put your mind at rest.

2)   People are no longer coming to you for advice but are going straight to your line manager instead.  Being by-passed in this way is often a sign that your line manager has instructed people to go direct.  This is likely to occur when there has been a loss of confidence in you. If you notice this happening, talk to your boss, or if that is not possible, network with your colleagues and probe them to find out why they are going over your head.  You may be able to win back their confidence.

3)   An irritability from your line manager when dealing with you. Y ou may begin to notice that your manager gets quite annoyed with you quite quickly, and the reason may not be obvious or apparent.  It could be a sign that the boss is suffering stress, but it might be that you are the cause of it. You can judge by the way they behave with your colleagues whether or not the issue is with you or whether your line manager has their own issues and is taking it out on everyone.

4)   We all moan about the number of emails we get, but if we see a significant drop in email traffic and this is over a sustained period of time, it may indicate that people no longer value your input or that they do not get the response from you that is required.  Be on your guard and talk with colleagues to see if you can establish the underlying problem.

5)   One of the more obvious signs is when the monitoring of your performance becomes more formal.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that any formal disciplinary action is being taken, but you may notice that meetings with your boss are now minuted. Maybe there is always a colleague asked to attend your one to one meetings.  This is a sure sign that your boss is closely monitoring your performance and collecting evidence prior to starting more formal processes.  The best way to deal with this is to challenge why it is happening and hopefully deal with any underlying performance issues.  Of course, if this is happening to everyone, it is just a sign of a change in HR policy.

6)   Another tell-tale sign is when you are singled out to document all the policies and procedures that you follow.  It may also be that your routine becomes the subject of reports your boss would like to see.  This all amounts to performance monitoring and collection of evidence prior to being taken through a formal process.

7)   Another very obvious sign, but remarkably often missed, is when you are told that there are performance issues and that you need to buck your idea up.  Don’t think that these requests are always a sign of stress or because the boss is in a bad mood. It’s often the case that you are being signaled to shape up or ship out.

8)   There is a change in the way that work is allocated and you are now left with all the routine, boring or unexciting projects to work on.  You might also notice that something high profile always goes to someone else and you are left with the less sexy work. If this is the case, do the work uncomplainingly and well.  Show the boss that he is missing a trick if he isn’t made use of a good resource.

9)   A much harder signal to pick up on is when there are subtle changes in the way that your boss interacts with you.  Maybe talking with you less or ignoring the points you make at meetings.  It could be the first signs of concern and if you pick up on them, there is a good chance you could work to change the situation before it gets any worse.

10)   The most obvious sign of all is when you are subject to an HR interview or meeting about your performance.  Once the HR team is involved, things get formal very quickly, so heed the warning, listen carefully to what they have to say and make sure that any action plan that you agree to is achievable.  If it isn’t, but you sign up to it, it could be used as the basis for dismissal if you subsequently fall short of agreed requirements.


Stephen H. has a successful career in education.  For the past twenty years or more, he has worked for a number of educational establishments, leading the development of curriculum and qualification design.  This work is not just a job, he has a real passion for education and its ability to change people’s lives.  The greatest satisfaction from his work is derived from helping others achieve their life’s ambition. Over the last ten years, Stephen has been developing his career as a freelance writer.  He has written many articles, content for study materials, guides for students, corporate copy and fiction.  More recently, he has started a blog where he is recording his journey to professional writer, sharing his experiences, successes and failures.  he hopes that it will be of interest to others on the same journey.  The blog can be accessed at


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.


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