• Terminating an employee is often messy, emotional, stressful, and unpleasant.
  • Firing someone from the team is a very delicate matter, and if it is not handled correctly, there may be cases of severe legal repercussions
  • Experienced managers will often phase the worker out to subtly inform the employee that leaving the company might be for the better.


Regardless of what company you work for, firing someone just because you don’t like them is not only illegal but also unethical.

Still, there are times when letting go of an employee must be done. More often than not, this is needed for the good of the organization and for the employee as well.

However, companies need to ensure that employees are working hard as a team to achieve their business goals. If there are employees who simply do not fit in, it’s up to the manager to make some changes.


Making the judgment calls

Naturally, most managers and supervisors dread having to be the bearer of bad news and discharge the employee. Terminating an employee is often messy, emotional, stressful, and unpleasant.

Consequently, managers and supervisors do not tend to fire an underperforming employee immediately. Firing someone from the team is a very delicate matter, and if it is not handled correctly, there may be cases of severe legal repercussions.

So what do managers and supervisors do when they encounter these situations? Experienced managers will often phase the worker out to subtly inform the employee that leaving the company might be for the better.

There are some blatant hints that this is happening to an employee, but sometimes, the signs are more subtle and subdued.


Here are several key indicators that an employee is being phased out at work:


HINT 1: Poor performance reviews

A performance review is an effective way to objectively scrutinize whether the employee is right for the company or not. The management will most probably convey their displeasure with the employee’s performance during quarterly performance reviews.

Business specialist and Author Lynn Taylor told Business Insider that, “A series of critical performance reviews could be a major sign that your job is in jeopardy.”

Employees who are being squeezed out of the company are usually those who do not meet their target KPIs during the performance reviews. As such, these performance reviews also serve as a warning or “wake up call” to the employee to make several improvements with their job.


HINT 2: Being kept out of the loop

It is only natural for managers and supervisors to give critical assignments to team members that they trust. Employees who are being phased out would often be removed from all key decision-making activities. They will also be taken off from their pre-existing duties. 

When managers start giving away tasks that are usually assigned to a specific person without any explanation, they are communicating that they either don’t value or trust that employee anymore.

Taylor also noted that “There could be other reasons for this happening, but certainly one may be that your leadership has lost the trust or confidence in your abilities, making you vulnerable when and if layoffs happen.”


HINT 3: Being constantly watched

Employees who are getting squeezed of their job would often feel that they are under a microscope. Management would usually take an interest in their every move in the workplace. This is probably because the management is looking for ways to justify the employee’s termination.

Thus, there should be clear evidence to show that their sub-par performance is not up to the company’s standards. If the employee is under in-depth scrutiny, the management would usually monitor their computer, time their lunch breaks, and note the amount of time they spend in finishing a task.


HINT 4: Being micromanaged

It is usually not a good sign when the manager or supervisor would suddenly nitpick on a specific employee’s work. Employees would feel when they are being micromanaged and when they are not given the leeway to finish a task with minimal supervision.

This is another sign that indicates how the management has lost confidence in an employee’s performance. Moreover, this clearly shows that the management is already looking for justifications for letting the employee go.


HINT 5: Being documented about everything

Employee feedback is usually given with no strings attached. It could even be informal and undocumented. Getting constructive criticisms at work is nothing new. However, things get serious when employee feedback suddenly needs to involve paperwork.

When employees are asked to fill out timesheets to jobs that they do not get regularly monitored, it shows that they are being documented on the progress of their performance in the company.

Companies usually have a progressive discipline process for underperforming employees. This will give them an opportunity to improve, and if they don’t, it will justify why they are being terminated.


HINT 6: Not being groomed for the future

Career development is essential for employees who wish to advance in the corporate ladder. However, if the management has shown a particular disregard for an employee’s growth opportunities, then that means that they do not have long-term plans for that person.

Jim Thibodeau, president of HR consulting firm StaffScapes, noted that “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.”

“Similarly, if you see others in your office receiving more professional development, it may be time to reassess your career path,” he added.


What to do about being pushed out of work?

If the company wants to push you out, trust your gut. If employees feel like they are being pushed out, and there are clear signs that they are doing so, then it is probably true. There is no reason to wait around to get terminated.

However, before employees start sending out their resignation letter, here are several preliminary steps to help ensure that your eventual transition is as smooth as possible:


  • Start researching new careers

There will always be a company that will be a better match for an employee’s skills and personality traits. If employees feel like their career is getting stagnant in a company, then there is a likelihood that they would leave sooner or later. Always remember that every job is a learning experience. Your current career will equip and prepare you for something better in the future.


  • Don’t blame yourself

There is a good chance that the employee’s poor performance is not the only reason why they do not fit in the company. There are so many other variables that influence the poor fit. Learn what you can from it.


  • Make time away from work more fulfilling

Spend time doing things outside of work that you enjoy. This will help you gain a new perspective and make the search for new and better opportunities more optimistic. Push yourself to find hobbies that you like to get your mind wander away from your current job and be preoccupied with the things you find interesting.


  • Visualize the type of work environment you want in the future

This will help the employee ask the right questions about company culture during future interviews so they can avoid making the same mistake. You can make a list of the kind of work environment you envision to have in the future.


  • Remind yourself that this too shall pass

Always remember that this is just a temporary setback, and things will eventually get better. Finding a career that will suit your personality and work ethic is very important. All the experiences that you have learned, whether good or bad, will only make you better in your future career with another company.


Let us help you find employees that suits you

Curran Daly and Associates is one of the most trusted, go-to executive recruitment and search firm in Vietnam. We are committed to helping companies match the right person to the right role, in the most efficient timeframe possible.

Learn how our trusted executive search consultants can assist you.



10 Signs Your Boss Wants You to Quit. (2019). Default. Retrieved 13 November 2019, from https://www.comptia.org/career-change/plan/how-to/hate-your-boss

Grapevine, E. (2019). Are you being ‘phased out’ at work?. Executivegrapevine.com. Retrieved 13 November 2019, from https://www.executivegrapevine.com/content/article/2019-10-25-are-you-being-phased-out-at-work?utm_source=template-pardot&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=eg-28-10-19&utm_content=features&utm_term=Job+loss

How to tell if your company is hoping you’ll quit. (2019). Monster Career Advice. Retrieved 13 November 2019, from https://www.monster.com/career-advice/article/company-hoping-you-quit-0117

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