It doesn't take a psychic to spot signs of career/job disaster

Have you ever watched a prison movie, where a man walks into the exercise yard and everyone else starts moving away from him? They know something bad is about to happen before he does. You may be starring in your own drama at work and not even know it. For instance, if people around you are starting to avoid you, you are about to get iced.

Here is the handwriting on the wall that you need to read:

  • Your relationship with your boss has gone sour.

Perhaps you’ve been critical of the way he does things or your philosophy is in sharp contrast to his. Whatever the reason, at some point your manager seems to have distanced himself from you. You can feel that things are somehow "different."

  • Your replacement has been hired.

If you’re close to retirement or it’s obvious you need assistance in your work, a new hire should be a welcome relief. However, if the workload is manageable and you really don’t need extra help, a new person on the scene is a warning sign.

  • Your continuing education money has been quashed.

If you always go to that convention in San Diego or usually take three credits a semester and suddenly the request is denied, it’s time to sit up and pay attention to the situation.

  • You’ve been replaced on an ongoing committee.

This alone isn’t a warning sign, since it’s common to rotate folks on committees. But it is a red flag if you are the only logical person for the committee and you are suddenly replaced without warning. At the very least, your boss doesn’t think you are doing a good enough job.

  • You haven’t been invited to important meetings.

When you discover that a meeting was held without you, that you should have been a part of, start worrying. When your manager and others start cutting you out of decisions that should include you, they have already written you off.

  • You are the last to know about a new initiative in your area.

I’m not talking gossip here. This involves a big, new project that will have a significant impact on your work unit. If everyone knows before you do, it’s because your boss doesn’t value your thoughts about it or knows you will be gone before long anyway.

  • Your boss is inaccessible to you.

Any healthy manager/employee relationship can struggle with this issue. But when it seems obvious that your manager is purposely keeping her distance, you should start to sweat.

  • Parts of your responsibilities have been reassigned.

If things are going well, your boss will take the opposite action and give you more responsibilities. It is never a good sign to have things taken away, unless it is clear that you are so overloaded that you can’t survive in your current state. Responsibilities are removed because your manager doesn’t like the way you are handling them or feels that taking some things away may enable you to complete your basic job adequately.

  • Your opinion isn’t heard at staff meetings.

If your manager doesn’t value your opinion, you’re in trouble. Often, a manager mentally "writes off" a person who isn’t a strong performer and automatically discounts any idea the person has.

If these situations are too close to home for you, it’s time to get your resume put together and prepare for the worst. Or, better yet, find something else before the ax falls.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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