Noticing a chill in your office recently? We’re not talking about temperature, exactly, but rather the overall vibe. Maybe you’re being left out of discussions or your workload is lightening, and there’s no real reason for either to be happening.
It may not be all in your head—your company might be hoping you’ll quit.
But if your company no longer has a need for you, why wouldn’t your boss just let you go? Well, from an employer’s perspective, it’s much easier for them if you can be encouraged to leave on your own. Whether via a firing or a layoff, if a company takes the initiative to cut an employee loose, there’s more paperwork involved, and it creates a stressful atmosphere for those left in the office.
Think your company may be trying to goad you into quitting? Check out these five telltale signs.
You’re used to being left alone to do your work and have enjoyed the supportive feedback of your boss for as long as you can remember. Suddenly, your boss begins to nitpick all your work and dole out frustratingly vague criticisms. Bad sign.
Your boss may have lost confidence in you or is looking for justifications for letting you go, says Dele Lowman Smith, an executive coach in Atlanta.
“If your boss’s micromanaging is accompanied by constructive recommendations or specific feedback, they more than likely want you to improve,” she says. “However, if the criticism is nonspecific, excessive, or focused on issues that have little importance, they may be more interested in seeing you leave.”
Feedback on your work used to be informal and undocumented, and any mistakes you made were pointed out to you in private, with a friendly talk. Now everything suddenly involves paperwork. You’re being asked to fill out time sheets so the company can keep track of how you spend your hours and minutes; feedback that used to transpire over a coffee break now requires an email chain, with your boss’s boss cc’d in.
“Most employers have some sort of progressive discipline process that, when used properly, gives an underperforming employee the opportunity to improve,” says Lowman Smith. However, if the company wants you gone and implements this with little advance notice, it may be an attempt to psych you out—or “a form of intimidation to make you feel insecure or stressed enough to start looking for a new job,” she says.
Your professional development is essential to your value as an employee. So if your company has pulled back on growth opportunities for you, they likely don’t see you as being around long term.
“When you’re not getting new projects assigned to you, it’s a sign the boss isn’t interested in your future with the company,” says Jim Thibodeau, president and owner of StaffScapes, an HR consulting firm in Denver. “Similarly, if you see others in your office receiving more professional development, it may be time to reassess your career path.”
Communication is vital to every department in every company. Your presence at meetings, on calls, and at events, as well as on email correspondence, gives you access to this constant flow of information. When you’re abruptly cut off or pushed out of the circle, take note—especially if other coworkers remain in the loop.
Maybe this means your boss leaves you out of key client meetings, keeps rescheduling your weekly lunch date, or oddly skips the hallway hellos. Perhaps the frostiness is coming from your peers, too, making the water cooler feel more like a popsicle stand. That could indicate that those colleagues have picked up on your status as persona non grata, and don’t want to become tainted by association.
A company is like one big team, so if you’re used to being a starting player, and then all of a sudden you get benched in favor of other players, you’re right to feel suspicious.
Whenever a boss starts giving away tasks that you always do—or that they know you enjoy—without some type of explanation, they’re communicating that they either don’t value you or don’t trust you to do it anymore, says Lowman Smith. The same goes if they’re giving you grunt work that’s not normally your job, she says.
Trust your gut. If it feels like your company wants you gone, they probably do. Don’t wait to find out if you’re right. Start searching for a new and better job today. Control the narrative, and work for a company that appreciates just how awesome you are at what you do.
This article originally appeared on Monster and is reprinted with permission.