7 Ways to Tell if You?re Being ?Targeted? at Work

Years ago, I had a coworker who was in a management position, who was facing several obvious threats to her job. It wasn?t that she was incompetent ? quite the opposite. She was very good at her job and highly sought after by other employers. But a new department head had been appointed from the outside, and she wanted the friend out. I was aware of a series of obvious attacks, which my friend described as being the result of her being targeted.

What is it when you?re being targeted at work? It?s when your employer or your boss have no reason to fire you, so they set up a series of contrived incidents to degrade your performance, and either create a reason to fire you, or to force you to leave on your own.

When that happens you generally have four choices, each with its own risks and potential benefits:

  1. Wait it out and hope the episode blows over quietly,
  2. Arrange a meeting with your boss to discuss it,
  3. Take the hint and leave before the ax falls, or
  4. Wait until you get fired, and then deal with the consequences from there.

The methods used are sometimes so subtle that you find yourself questioning your own worth and ability. You may even believe that you?re simply being paranoid. Everyone goes through bouts of paranoia at work, but it?s equally likely that you?re being targeted.

How can you know if you?re being targeted at work? Here are some signs. If you?re experiencing several of these in a short space of time, it may be time to consider your options.

1. Your Boss Spends Less Time with You or Seems Irritated Around You

This can be a hard one to determine, if your boss has never really spent much time with you since the time you started your job. But if you notice a decline in personal meetings with- and communication from- your boss, and there?s no obvious explanation for the disruption, this is an excellent clue.

Your boss may be attempting to minimize contact with you, either to reduce his or her dependence on you, or simply to send you a sign that you have fallen from grace. It?s even possible that your boss is creating distance in order to avoid contact in advance of a predetermined firing. There may even be the usual inferences of you’re having a bad attitude, or my favorite, “not being a team player”. Those subtle jabs are usually deeper with meaning than we like to think.

Contrary to popular belief, not all supervisors are comfortable with the termination process. Instead, they?ll often send a series of well targeted hints, in the hope that you get the message and leave on your own. That avoids a messy confrontation that may not reflect well on the boss.

7 Ways to Tell if You?re Being ?Targeted? at Work
7 Ways to Tell if You?re Being ?Targeted? at Work

2. You?re Not Getting Important Emails

I?m not referring specifically to emails from your boss, but emails in general. If your boss or the higher-ups have taken your name off the organizational chart, then they no longer feel the need to keep you in the loop on important matters.

While you may continue to be copied on the general circulation emails, the number of messages directed specifically to you declines. That can be an indication of reduced responsibility, or a lack of trust.

Whatever the reason for the reduction in communications, it?s a clear sign that you are being targeted for either demotion or termination.

3. Others Seem to Know What?s Going On Before You Do

This sign is closely related to the decline in direct emails. If you notice that other people in the department or the company seem to be aware of important developments before you are, it?s confirmation that events are taking place that you?re specifically being excluded from knowing.

It?s a really bad sign, too.

When it reaches this level, it usually won?t help to ask your boss why you?re being excluded. You?re most likely to get some sort of frivolous explanation, like your name was mistakenly deleted from the email list, it was someone else?s responsibility to let you know, or the ubiquitous ?it was an oversight?.

When important information is being disseminated, the important people are always in the loop. If you were in that loop before, and you are now mysteriously absent from it, it?s time to update your resume.

4. There Are an Unusual Number of Closed Door Meetings

One of the situations that I picked up on early in my career in the organizational world, is that an unusual number of closed doors means something?s getting ready to go down.

As an indicator of you being targeted, this is a tricky sign. It could simply mean that there?s a big problem, or a set of problems, that the department or the company are facing. But if those closed-door meetings involve a significant number of your coworkers ? but not you ? it can be a sign that you?re the subject of those meetings.

I remember the first job that I held after college at a small mortgage company. Closed-door meetings seemed to be the company?s modus operandi.

One day I was standing outside of the closed door of my boss?s office. I made a comment (in jest) to the receptionist who was sitting outside of his door, saying ?Do you think they?re talking about us in there??

Her face turned serious, and her response shocked me: “If the door is closed, and two or more people are in there, rest assured that they?re talking about you.”

I realize that to most people this would seem like an overly cynical response. But I quickly found out the wisdom of her words. The company was in complete disarray, and the normal procedure for dealing with the litany of problems was for employees to blame their coworkers for whatever was going wrong.

In that particular company, complaints about coworkers behind closed doors were the happy little way that the company operated. Unfortunately, I was often the subject of the closed-door conversations. After less than a year, I decided that I couldn?t take that type of environment, and moved on.

That company was perhaps a bad example of my closed-door theory, only because it was so normal there. But it did tip me off in future work situations, where closed-door meetings are much more infrequent. If you begin seeing a pattern of closed-door meetings, that don?t involve you, and are deemed to be ?none of your concern?, it can be a tip-off that you?re being targeted.

5. Your Name Doesn?t Come Up for Important Assignments or a Promotion

This is another potential sign that can go either way. If you haven?t historically been a ?go-to person? (that?s one of a select few people necessary in any organization to carry a heavier load than others), this won?t matter. In fact, you might even be relieved.

But if you?re normally one of the go-to people, and important assignments are being handed to other people, or there?s a promotion in the wind and your name isn?t coming up, this can be a significant sign that you?re being targeted for either demotion or execution.

You can confront your boss as to why you?re being passed over, but you may be disappointed at the result. Your boss might use it as another opportunity to send you a hint that you?re on a short-timer list.

6. One or More Important Functions are Taken From You

If you have four major functions at work, and two of them are taken away from you, that?s a bad sign. Unless your employer is clearing your deck so that you can move into a different but equally important (or better) capacity, it could be a sign that your job is being degraded.

This is when it?s important to remember that employers will rarely fire you on the spot for anything short of criminal behavior. Your existence on the payroll is strictly at the pleasure and convenience of your employer. That means that they will only terminate you when it?s convenient for them.

If you have significant responsibilities at work, the employer may gradually reduce the load, and redistribute it to others. This is a targeting process that essentially moves you from being a critical employee to an expendable one. They?re trying to reduce your role to the point where your departure won?t negatively affect workflow in the organization.

This is one of those critical signs that you cannot afford to take lightly. Systematic reduction in your responsibilities is a process of intentionally moving you to irrelevancy.

7. You?re Being Blamed for Problems You Didn?t Cause

This is probably the most obvious sign that you?re being targeted, but one that I think is particularly clumsy and usually executed by the most dysfunctional organizations. That?s because it?s the least subtle warning that your employer is preparing to let you go. It?s an orchestrated attempt to create that ?last step? before you?re terminated.

Blame can come in different forms. It could be a decision that a specific assignment or project that you have been given was a failure attributed strictly to you. It could be a group activity that failed, but you are individually blamed for the failure. They could also manufacture a problem that?s a complete fiction.

The Typical Outcome of the Blame Game

It?s rare that you?ll be able to fight your way out of this kind of assault. If it?s intentional, no one in authority will be sympathetic. It?s even possible that one or more of your coworkers has been recruited in the effort. You may be facing The Big Lie, a fabrication in which several people collaborate in the effort. If the situation reaches this level, you are already on the outside looking in.

It?s possible that the named problem is actually your fault. But it?s also possible that it?s someone else?s fault, and the blame is being pinned on you to protect that other person (there’s usually a “protected class” in every organization). But your employer may also be using it as a justification to let you go. It may result in a semi-sympathetic meeting, in which your boss or another superior takes you in for a ?heart-to-heart chat?, and advises you that it’s time to move on.

If it comes to that, don?t sit around waiting for Round Two. It?s usually better to leave on your own terms, than to wait until your employer makes the decision for you.

Have you ever felt that you were being targeted at work? What were the specific details, and how did it end up? I suspect that this isn?t as unusual as we like to believe.

( Photo by viZZZual.com )

33 Responses to 7 Ways to Tell if You?re Being ?Targeted? at Work

  1. Unfortunately this type of underhanded behavior is endured by many in the workplace. You could be the best employee for job but if you don’t fit in the group dynamics for whatever reasons, performance won’t matter. You see this attitude most often in companies who are on a downhill slide, and the fools become don’t want to upset the status quo of the work environmen.
    You won’t have clues prior to hire on this behavior, if you base research on employee turnover because the majority of employees will be long termed employed but you can tell by the interactions between fellow employees to newcomers by responses to questions on how jobs are done versus actual performance.
    What is the worst part of this problem is the blacklisting of employees who leave after enduring this harassment.

  2. You’re right Maria, this might be amusing except that it has long-term consequences. For example, at that job that I described in the article, I learned after the fact not to use my boss from that job as a reference. Even though we had a good work report, he gave me a bad reference. He referred to me as a ‘nine-to-fiver’. Of course I was! No one can endure conflict day-in and day-out, all day. I’d leave at 5 to get out of Hell. In addition, they were paying me peanuts and I had to keep a second job. I had no time or inclination to hang around past 5, but I was black-listed for what was a completely rational response to a very irrational situation.

    In the long run it didn’t hurt me, since I was well known as a go-to performer. But that brings up another point. Dysfunctional employers tend to stay dysfunctional long after you leave. We can change in a different environment. But organizations seem to be beyond reforming themselves. That’s why it’s almost always best to quietly leave this kind of employer. You also make another good point that mistreatment of employees is most common in companies who are on a downhill slide. They develop little fiefdoms that are more concerned with staying afloat and dealing with imaginary challenges, than actually reforming for the better.

  3. Thanks for listening Kevin– Problem I see is too much for lack of a better wording of sheep thinking to not rock the boat.
    All I ever wanted to do is earn my pay within my required hours without having to take on someone else’s lack of effort as I am getting paid the same as anyone. What I did outside of work is no ones business but mine, hence the separation of work friends and out of work life,
    I would like to see an effective way to deal with this other than opting out of job especially if running the risk of being blacklisted. Some of us really need the money gotten from job and these places also make it harder to get unemployment.

  4. Employers are difficult to deal with in a negative situation. They hold the power of hire and fire, as well as your paycheck, so it’s never a level playing field. I’m actually a bad person to ask because I’m not organizational in any way. But from what I’ve seen, the best way to survive it is to develop a thick skin. I’ve seen people being targeted who just roll with it, and sometimes they survive it. I’ve seen others demoted and still hang around. They seem to have a mental toughness that I don’t – or greater fear.

    What I have learned is that dysfunctional employers seldom clean up their act. You can come back 20 years later, and it will be the same thing, though with different faces. I’ve read that this describes 80% of employers.

  5. Oh my gosh, YES. I’ve had this happen to me and it’s a terrible, sinking feeling. Honestly, the only way I can deal with it is to find a better (and better-paying) job. That’s not a culture you want to be in–ever. Why subject yourself to a job that acts like everyone is in a middle school clique?

  6. Interesting you bring up middle school. It does seem as if a lot of workplaces do revert to school. Unfortunately a lot of adults don’t get far from school emotionally and socially, and it leads to cliques and favoritism. That’s not a problem as long as it doesn’t affect anyone’s job. But if you’re outside the clique, you could be targeted. A lot of it is scapegoating. When employers look to assign blame, they’re careful to look outside the inner circle for perpetrators. And even if you’re innocent, you can be the target of the Big Lie.

  7. I just had to come back and add one more comment to this thread after thinking about situation.
    Yes, we have in real life people who need what I call a good smack of being an ADULT. Perhaps I should blame it on my parents continuing to work at horrid work conditions and continuing to do their job despite all the lazy people around them, but they did it because putting food on the table and keeping a roof over our heads was more important.
    There were many times, I wanted to quit a job because of the attitude of the people I had around me, but those two goals mentioned above kept me going. So I guess I developed what Kevin called a thick skin, which served me well when I finally got promoted after being blacklisted for years at job because promoting me, meant others had to work harder. I think I have forgotten more multi-tasking skills than I remember which I did to motivate myself. But I did learn the power of the word NO. It took a few years to learn but I learned to use it and not feel guilty. e.g. My hours would be cut but everyday they would ask me to stay, so when they wanted to remove me off a day which I got guaranteed time and half, I told them if they did that, it would be on a permanent basis since I would not be available for that day anymore. I never lost that day as a day of work.
    As for these people who try to make life miserable and try to get you out of job–I found it best to be the best as I could at my job by making extremely hard for them to find something wrong with my performance. Remember they can’t fire you for being good at your job, without having to offer you compensation for layoff.

  8. Hi Maria – One of the most outlandish things I’ve ever heard of are “Adulting classes”. Have you ever heard of them? It’s growing because apparently a lot of Millennials haven’t learned how to be adults. Can’t say I blame them. A lot of their parents – Baby Boomers – refused to grow up first. Then there’s TV, that shows people living the good life, but with little in the way of work responsibilities. And we can’t forget the schools, that brainwashed the yunggins to be perpetual students. My feeling is that a lot of people in our society could use some adulting classes. Unlike when I was a kid, not many people see any merit in becoming an adult.

    But you learned to be an adult from your parents. It’s what they were doing when they were working at hard jobs, and putting up with crap because they had a family to support. There are too many people in the workforce who didn’t get that training. They think that compensation is automatic, and work is optional. That means that the real adults have to step up and take up the slack. I’ve always been under the impression that employers know who the real workers are, and who the game players are. Unfortunately, they tolerate the latter, while relying on the former to make it all work. It’s a thankless position to be in if you’re a performer. I’ve also seen too many situations where employers favor the game players at the expense of the performers, perhaps because they’re more interesting – and sensitive – while the performers just soldier on and take whatever nonsense is thrown their way.

    That’s a big reason why I exited the organizational world a long time ago. As the saying goes, “In the land of the insane, the sane man is crazy.” That describes entirely too many employment situations, and I got tired of it.

  9. Thanks Kevin. Lucky you got a great blog outlet to generate income from, some of us are not as prolific in verbal skills and coming from my background I don’t have the guts to develop my own business as I always believe you have to have money to make money as nothing is free.
    Yes there are adulating classes around especially here in New York such as how to have dinner without using technology, or how to do laundry properly, or how to balance a budget. All tools learned by doing chores and participating with others.
    Don’t go blaming just the Baby Boomers as they are actually the grandparents of the present day millennials unless they started families late. I blame it on the tendency to over hover parenting style and pushing the me first tendency, which leads to a non-real perspective of real world.
    I am just glad I am not in California where the ultra-liberal demand everyone (including illegals) get free stuff or they will kill their representatives. Makes New York look better as I can at least still walk up to my representatives and not worry someone will be shooting at them.

  10. You’re right, Maria, I forgot about the hovering parents. And yes, it isn’t just Baby Boomers (of which I’m one), but our generation were the ones who initiating the hovering, and it’s only gotten worse since. My wife and I tried not to hover, but we often think we did too much of it anyway.

    Also, for what it’s worth, I didn’t have the money to start my own business either (I had no choice as my previous career left me in the middle of the Financial Meltdown). If you can find a business that you can run on either your skills or your effort, you often don’t need any money. My family is about to take the plunge into buying and selling. My son and I have done that successfully in the past, and you can get started with less than $100. That’s the only kind of business I’d consider, since businesses that require a lot of capital are also very high risk. I’d much rather create a business from scratch than buy one.

  11. This happened to me too. I had a horrible boss who did not know how to do her job. If you didn’t help her do her job then you got on her bad side. I was one of three managers in the department. I only lasted for two years before leaving for a much better job. I was the 6th manager to leave in two years, yet some how my former boss continued to blame the issues on the managers who left in an attempt to deflect the blame.

    A group of managers who had worked for her filed a code of conduct complaint against at her because of how unethical she was. Corporate HR got involved and assured everyone that retaliation would not be tolerated.

    They did nothing about the issues that were reported and the retaliation was horrible. I had my boss making up lies about my performance in an effort to fire me. I’ve never been written up for anything before in my life.

    It was such a bad situation that effected my health. I considered a lawsuit but in the end as just so grateful to be out of that situation that I didn’t even want to bring it all up again.

    And – from one of your previous blog posts – I ended up moving from Atlanta to New Hampshire and am SO happy that I made the move.

  12. Hi Nikki – The situation you describe is all too common. Both I and my wife have seen it again and again. For reasons that completely mystify me, bad managers seem to have a life all their own. It’s as if the higher-ups don’t care that the bad manager is a complete wreck. Or they know and are complicit. In fact, I have heard of managers being brought in as a “hatchet”. That is, they’re brought in specifically to clean house. Though we’d like to think that the higher-ups would discipline or dismiss the offending manager, in most cases nothing happens. You did the right thing by leaving. No matter what you did, that situation would never have improved.

    I remember you talking about making the move from ATL to NH. I’m glad you like being in NH. We’ve been here for going on three years, and we love it. I realize that more people want to move to the Sun Belt, and for many it works out just fine. They usually go because of warmer weather or cheaper housing. But how much you like a place (or not) really depends on a lot of factors, many of which are not obvious to the casual observer. For me, NH just works better than GA, despite the cold winters. Life just feels better and more stimulating here, and I’ll take that over warmer winters. And I know this sounds crazy, but I just feel more empowered in NH. I think that may be because NH is more non-conformist than Atlanta (which is very conformist), and that just works better for the person who I am.

  13. OMG!!! All of this rings true. I had a job that I ABSOLUTELY loved. I was
    written up for “insubordination”,and many other little things. ! I had become so rattled by this one manager that I went to a psych dr. I was sure I was going craycray. The Dr.told me no I wasnt off my rocker and he had other employees from same company under his care. He told me to go home and take it easy. (i never took any meds for this). Thats how brutal this place had become. I was eventually let go because I was “racist”!!! Thats pretty devastating to be told that with no means to defend myself at the time. I had to fight for my unemployment because they lied at the hearing & produced no evidence to support my termination. The judge did rule in my favor & cautioned them on conduct. The evidence they produced was total bs. The final insult from this company-manager was when I was being considered for a position with the state of California and my info & past employment was being verified. This same manager stated I was prone to being violent & not a good candidate. Why would someone be so negative and lie..There was never any type of verbal or physical confrontation ever in any of my past employment. I was not that kind of person. I had never been fired or let go before this. After being let go my self esteem & confidence were gone. I was so ashamed & blamed myself for a long time. I am glad I came across your article because you described exactly what I had endured. Its hard to get your confidence back after such an ordeal.

    Oh and I did get the job with the state of California. I won them over first with my resume and then in person. I never had any problems, write ups or negative reviews after that job.

  14. Hi Roni – Your experience highlights that fact that jobs are systems/environments that create an alternate universe. Within that universe, reality is dictated from the top. They can cast you in any light they choose, and reality has nothing to do with it. In every job environment there’s a hierarchy. There’s the boss/management, the clique – the people favored by the boss/management, the worker ants, and one or two in the doghouse – at all times. If you’re in the doghouse there’s no way out except to leave, which is usually what they want to happen anyway. In your case, you hung on a bit too long so they set you up for firing, in what was superficially a justifiable cause.

    I’ve seen enough of these situations to know it’s real, especially targeting. You can’t stay in that situation too long, or you’ll experience exactly what you did, stress, emotional trauma, and a loss of self-esteem.

    I’ve never left a job that I regretted. Office politics should have nothing to do with your job, but it does. It’s also a matter of degree. In some environments, it’s more pronounced than others. In fact, it can dominate the workspace, and that’s when it’s time to move on. An environment thick with politics should never be a permanent work place, because it’s just a question of time before the politics will turn on you and you’ll be in the doghouse.

    Never regret leaving that place, and don’t ruminate on it. They were the problem, not you. And now that you’re gone, the crap will continue, only it’s happening without you.

  15. With incompetent management in place who are tolerated by company ( for whatever reason) one needs to create the best exit process to your favor.
    My daughter had to deal with a situation like this down in Florida at a privately owned business similar to a Baby?s R Us store. She was only there on a part time basis because she was completing her degree plus dealing with taking care of the children as child care is too expensive during non school days. She hired on for selective hours and had selective duties. Her direct supervisor happened to be the daughter of owner who just graduated from high school business program and she thought she knew everything about running her part of the business ( she was the buyer). I don?t need to detail how unqualified she was but she would try to put the blame on everyone around her for her mistakes. The owner appreciated my daughter?s abilities to organize the paperwork but also had to deal with his daughter. Fortunately my daughter got wind of this woman?s plan to terminate her so on the day they planned to do this, she walked in and listened to their speech and then demanded a written notice of the termination which by law has to state certain wording ( my daughter had to explain what they needed to type up to them). Good thing she did that because when she went to file for unemployment (which she was entitled to since she was fired) the company tried to deny claim using all the usual excuses to claim she quit but having that paperwork cleared up all understanding plus blocked any negative comments they could give other potential employers as all they could say was statement of employment.
    You have to get this statement in writing from places who utilize bad management to insure that they can?t blacklist your employment records which is totally against the law.
    I know that quitting is the goal but do it on your terms. Walk out the door feeling like you put the screws to them. I know getting fired is hard to face but if the reasons your job is problematic due to management and you haven?t found that perfect job ( which by the way isn?t that perfect either) do the job at hand as best as you can while on job within the rules of job expectations. They can?t fire you for showing up on time and doing your job properly. If you want unemployment, you need them to lay you off correctly. Don?t deny yourself benefits because of emotional reaction.

  16. That’s a good point Maria. Unemployment isn’t a guarantee. An employer can block it if they say you were fired for cause. Then you have to appeal, and the outcome is never certain. It’s like employers don’t layoff any more, they fire on trumped up grounds so they don’t get a claim filed against them.

    I wonder if the labor departments don’t keep records of how many employers fire for “cause”. They might just find some disturbing patterns if they do. But somehow the world doesn’t work like that. Author/speaker Robert Ringer wrote long ago that “the law sides with the wrong doer”. At the time I didn’t want to believe that. But I’ve seen too many examples of where that’s exactly how it works. What’s more, wrong doers have a knack for knowing just how to exploit laws and regulations for their own benefit.

  17. I think if enough people from one given employer are filing for unemployment, the labor board will start believing that the employees are eligible for unemployment despite all the claims by the employer. My daughter was doing the checking in at unemployment ( the first couple of times you have to go in person and actually speak to someone after that it?s all online) , she found out through discussion with the clerk that specific employer had a very high turnover, which also helped her claim.
    Now with the crackdown on proper employment papers , ( the documents needed to prove eligibility to work in USA),these companies are being forced to follow rules of employment. So a side effect of checking for legal status to work by Labor board which does occur more often now is helping employees deal with bad management. I am not being biased in this, just passing on information that I got from my daughter about job opportunities in her area. The ones who do things legally don?t have to worry and actually pay fair wages. It is the ones who don?t want to pay good wages and use workers who aren?t here legally who accept lower wages who you have to be aware of.

  18. I am a social worker in a juvenile detention facility. I’ve been in this field of work for 14 years but only at this job for a few months – I feel targeted. There are obviously many rules in a place like this and one of the first things I noticed is that the staff who supervise the juveniles have become highly complacent in enforcing & following rules and resent anyone, especially a new person, attempting to. I have been blamed for multiple events that I did not cause, I’ve been “bad-mouthed” to the directors, and some staff won’t talk to me.

  19. LP–sounds like you are in a job that works under a seniority program. (like a government type job) where the job performance has little to do with getting paid (you pay and hours are a given guaranteed). You sound like someone who actually does the job by the rules in place, but are surrounded by fellow co-workers, who don’t attempt to push themselves beyond the basic effort and probably feel resentful of your efforts which make them look lazy. The best advice I can give is to keep yourself isolated from them (co-workers) and do the best job you can. If you really feel the need to leave this job, you may have to leave before you get “pushed” out and seek work in another field. But remember this, this type of behavior is common all over and you need to choose whether you need/like this job field and whether you need ‘friends” at work. Co-workers are not the best of friends beyond work, they are part of the team of work but not your BFF.

  20. LP – I think MariaRose’s advice is spot on. You’ve got some tough choices to make, and none will be perfect. I’ve never done the kind of work you’re doing, but I have a strong sense it’s a tough one to get centered with (too many variables, expectations, unique situations, etc.). Perhaps there’s a different area of social work to investigate (hospitals, senior centers???). As MariaRose said, what you’re experiencing happens in most places, it’s mostly a matter of degree from one to another. One recurring theme I’ve heard in government jobs is a “lack of accountability”, and that may seep into the ranks of the employees early, especially those who don’t want to do more than the minimum (which also happens in the private sector).

  21. I appreciate the replies- I am a little surprised how “spot on” your insight is and this tells me that my situation is unfortunately, not unique. I am a person who takes accountability and also expects it from others- this is where I seem to run into trouble at my current position. I also lack the ability to blame, lie or sabotage others unfairly and I am finding this seems to be a deficit! There are some people here who have expressed that they also feel they’ve been targeted- I am an easier target I think because I am the newest, I am not a “barker” and I guess, still a little na?ve about things. I just don’t feel strong enough to keep going. I am going to take it day by day and try to ensure that my rights/feelings as well as those of the juvenile residents in my care are not trampled. Thank you for your responses. And thank you for helping me know that I am not alone in this.

  22. I am 59 years old, not old enough to retire. I have worked for this company 14.5 years and all of a sudden things went way wrong. I took a new job in the same company a year ago. I had a brand new manager who was very introverted and she just sat behind her desk with her computer. She called me in her office one day and told me that management wanted her to do things to people. I had no idea that one of those persons would be me. She never provided the training I needed but that didn’t stop me. I kept on going. I was told the HR Rep did not like me, and wanted me out. I’ve never had a bad evaluation, but they wrote me up on my performance. I was put on probation, and I can’t believe it took me 14.5 years for them to tell me I suck. I work everyday 10 to 13 hrs, and have not charged them any OT. This doesn’t help anyone, and I get that I’m older and they can pay the younger people less, but I am not a slacker by any means and it has really effected me that they are doing this. I don’t know who I have managed to piss off, but I will keep going on. It just doesn’t feel good; especially at this late stage in my life. It’s a large private corporation, who tends to do whatever they want, but this is no way to be treated by anyone.

  23. You may survive the assault by hanging in there. But just in case, I’d begin exploring other options. When you’ve been at a company for nearly 15 years and you’re being targeted it’s never something to be ignored. It’s one of those situations where the best advice is to keep on plugging, but get your parachute in working order.

  24. Dimes?your ears should have perked up when that ?introverted? new manager called you in and told you about instructions to do ?things? to people, plus the ?sudden ?bad performance review from HR. Your company has been ?evaluated? by an efficiency ?expert, whose sole job is to find ways to cut payroll dollars. Because you have been there for over 14 years, probably in your geography location, by labor law can?t be just fired, they need to create a series of written documentation to have cause to lay you off. Don?t sweat because this is also a tactic using ageism.
    Since you are just about at the rear end of working life ( I assume you are aiming to stay until full retirement age for Social Security), you are going to have to become pro-active going forward. First evaluate your expenses and try to eliminate any unnecessary debt. You need to know what exactly are your necessary expenses, because retirement money is substantially less than work income. Second get a Social Security report to evaluate your potential benefits and to see if you have maxed out your required time worked. Third find out if your job has retirement package ( pension)
    Now for attitude to the job, which you say you have worked at company for over 14 years but not at same position. You need to address the evaluation given objectively. Ask for details as what is required for job performance now and ask for any re-training in the specific area with a follow up re-evaluation. Don?t let them keep you guessing about what aspects of the job performance, they are looking at, make them ?enlighten ? you. Do this very politely and ignore any ?eye roll ?. Make it your goal to outlast them. Also keep a detailed diary, ( don?t leave it at work) of any type of negativity (nitpicking) towards your performance. If you have a personal ( not work) smartphone you can post to your note app if you have this option but do all postings when not on the clock as you may be monitored via camera or computer use. ( I am assuming you are in an office job) Most companies today have some kind of monitor system in place so don?t assume the same old thing based on time at job. Also like Kevin says test the waters for other jobs that you can do, but don?t expect same pay because even if they consider you they won?t always want to pay the same, just in the same ballpark. Also look out for ageism bias treatment, another thing to note in diary. And if a new skill is needed offer/volunteer to be trained to do this. Good Luck

  25. As I read some of these things I realize my idea of what a work environment should be like almost feels impossible. One thing I’ve noticed most people are about self preservation which is fine but to step all over others to get it is just frustrating when you are in the negative end of it. I have experiencd about the worse negative work experience possible it almost destroyed my life. Some of it was my own fault but the worse part of it was not. I am still not sure how to deal with these situations anymore they seem to be everywhere. The most important thing is to be the best you can and try to learn from your mistakes and defend yourself in the best way you know how. Don’t let the opinions of others fully define you and your potential. My work motto is “Just show up” Many times I don’t know what the day may bring good or bad but I remain reliable and dedicated even if others try to break me down. I still show up and never give up. A career change is ok but you still have to just show up.

  26. Hi Charlotte – I agree, to one degree or another, all these factors exist on nearly every job. And I also agree that a lot of it is motivated by self-preservation. It’s people trying to make themselves look good by making others look bad.

    You’re right, you can only do the best you can do. But it is a fact that conflict is worse in some employment situations than others. You have to decide how much you’re going to tolerate, then make a choice as to when it’s time to move on.

    You can never know if the next job will be the same or worse. But if you’re already in a bad situation, staying there will produce a guaranteed negative result. In my own experience, I’d rather take a chance on change than staying with “the devil that you know”. Even though you know that devil, it doesn’t make it any less of a devil. There are better places out there, and they’re worth trying from time to time.

  27. I have been facing this kind of situation and trying to survive this from long time. The most strange thing is, If I apply for the new job they are coming to know about it. I get immediate signals that they have come to know about my future interview. I don’t know how I need to come out of it

  28. Hi Kevin – Just a guess but you must in an industry or field that has a small number of employers. If so, everyone may know everybody else, making it impossible to conduct a secret job-search. Have you tried working with a recruiter? You can ask a recruiter to shop your resume between employers anonymously. Of course, if any want to interview you, they’ll need your name, and your employer may find out.

    Otherwise, the only opportunity may be to leave your job so you can conduct an open job-search. But only you can know if that’s a workable option. It will require having the financial strength to go without a paycheck. But you’ll also have to have a good sense that you’ll be able to get a new job quickly. If neither of those situations apply, I have no idea how you’re going to be able to get out of your current job.

  29. It feels like all recruiters know about me. They are all working for employers/managers. I went ahead and attended the interview, it felt like interviewer already knew who I was. We are planning to move away from this city and state. Sometimes it feels like it’s all in my head and may be everyone is going through similar issues in work life. But it doesn’t feel normal.

    Sorry if I am sounding like victim, every single day I am fighting it to not to feel like victim and to accept everything that is going on around me.

  30. I recently took a few personal days for my wedding anniversary and prior to that was a clinical supervisor with no staff under me being expected to handle 3 counselor caseloads totaling 45 clients. When I left for my time off there was a lot of clients not yet seen. By the time I came back none of them had been seen but they had opened an investigation on me for people I had seen and suspended me I resigned two days later

  31. Hi Kevin – I’ve heard your story too many times, and it’s something I don’t get. On the one hand employers act like you’re expendable, but just take a few days off and there’s no one to back you up. So which is it, are we expendable or can they not live without us??? I think the investigation/suspension was retaliation for you daring to take a few days off.

    My wife got fired from a job many years ago for daring to take time off during the holidays, even though she gave them three months notice for the absence (which was approved). It was the mortgage business, which isn’t affected by the holidays, but they despise anyone taking time off at any time, especially if a deal blows up while you’re gone. You may have had nothing to do with it blowing up – other than not being there and having no one to back you up – but that industry has always been notorious for playing The Blame Game. God forbid they should actually implement a back-up plan for when people are out!

    I’m afraid your situation is more common than we think, it just takes different forms with different employers and industries. Move on my friend, it’s the only option.

  32. COSTCO IN NORTH EAST OHIO IS A HUGE EXAMPLE OF ALL THESE! Costco is a terrible company to work for and matches everything you just said including what Maria said.

  33. I’m so very tired of the way I have been treated at various jobs. It’s a “small pool” where I live. It’s as if “the word” has gotten around about me. Thing is, its wrong! Now I’m without work again and my profession apparently hates me. I AM good at what I do. All I want to do is my job but misbehaving coworkers ruin everything. I feel helpless and I am at a loss as to what to do. I’m 50 and a single dad to a 12 year old. I dont want to move and disrupt my child’s life but that appears to be the only choice to keep doing what I do.
    Working from home is probably the best answer but pays significantly less.

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