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Is Your Boss Trying to Get You to Quit?

Is Your Boss Trying to Get You to Quit?
Credit: Peter Bernik/Shutterstock

Everyone wants their efforts to be recognized; to feel like they are contributing to the greater good of the company and that they are moving forward in their careers. But when a boss negates any of those things, employees start thinking their jobs are on the line – or that the boss is hoping they'll quit first.

A study by CareerBuilder revealed that more than a quarter of bosses have an employee who reports to them that they would like to see leave the company. Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources for CareerBuilder, said it's important that managers be as direct as possible when dealing with employees who, for whatever reason, aren't a good fit for their teams.

"Fortunately, a plurality of managers in our survey were open to confronting the situation through a formal discussion or warning; however, some will do nothing at all, or even resort to passive-aggressive behaviors that can only prolong a negative working arrangement," Haefner said. "It's important that workers be aware of such warning signs, and if necessary, take steps to improve their situations." [See Related Story: Terrible Boss? Here's What You Can Do]

For those bosses who aren't always straightforward, there are some warning signs that may help employees recognize when to start looking at alternatives. According to Forbes, some signs that a boss might be trying to encourage you to leave include the following:

  • Burying your work so no one else sees what you've accomplished
  • Pointing out to other managers where you stumbled
  • Backhanded compliments that praise you for one thing while belittling you for another 
  • Keeping you out of the loop regarding new company developments
  • Communicating primarily over email instead of in person or on the phone
  • Excluding you from certain meetings, projects and social gatherings with coworkers

It is tempting to respond in kind in those situations, but the best thing for an employee to do is keep their head up, rededicate themselves to performing well, and look for other, positive ways to deal with such passive aggressive behavior.

Haefner offers these tips for those employees who do think their boss isn't very happy with them to help repair the relationship, including:

Recommit to performance. Employees should identify areas where they can improve immediately and display their commitment to the company's objectives. More than 60 percent of managers say the best thing a worker can do after a falling out with the boss is to simply improve the quality of work. In most cases, the negative attitudes will be history.

Don't hold a grudge or gossip. Nearly 60 percent of managers think one's ability to "move forward and not hold a grudge" is important to repairing working relationships. This is a two-way street, of course, but workers who are able to display professionalism in spite of personal differences will be in a better position to navigate office politics. Similarly, 38 percent of managers say simply not discussing the falling out with other colleagues is a smart way to repair a relationship.

Rewrite the terms. Employees who sense their manager is pushing them away must take pre-emptive action by presenting ideas that may improve the working relationship. Workers have the right to clear expectations of their roles and responsibilities. A conversation that redefines or clarifies those expectations is sometimes necessary. 

In short, individuals who take the high road, stay professional and are willing to engage in open and honest communication put themselves in the best position to succeed, either with their current company or the next opportunity.

Additional reporting by Chad Brooks. Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.

Marci Martin

With an Associate's Degree in Business Management and nearly twenty years in senior management positions, Marci brings a real life perspective to her articles about business and leadership. She began freelancing in 2012 and became a contributing writer for Business News Daily in 2015.