Have you ever had the feeling that your boss is trying to get rid of you?

There is a phenomenon known as “quiet firing,” which involves employers making a subtle but deliberate effort to push an employee out of their role without overtly terminating them.

In this article, we delve into the intricacies of quiet firing, and I’ll highlight seven red flags to watch out for.

In the extended YouTube version of this article, I provide actionable steps for you to address this situation if you think it’s happening to you. You can watch it here.

Understanding Quiet Firing

Quiet firing is a covert method employed by employers to phase out an employee from their position gradually.

It is akin to a slow drip effect, gradually corroding your role within the organisation. It’s characterised by subtle yet deliberate actions aimed at side-lining or undermining you without overtly terminating your employment.

Unlike traditional terminations, which may involve formal notices (disciplinary processes) or confrontational discussions, quiet firing operates in the shadows and works by eroding an employee’s role as well as their confidence and self-esteem over time.

It is an insidious tactic which often manifests through subtle actions and behaviours.

Red Flags

The red flags to look out for are:

1. Reduced Responsibilities

  • You may notice a gradual decrease in your workload.

  • Your tasks may be subtly redistributed to other team members or new employees.

  • You may find that you are beginning to be excluded from important projects or meetings without explanation.

  • You might discover that you’ve been missed off circulation lists of important communications and not been given critical information that you need to be able to do your job effectively.

2. Lack of Feedback or Recognition

Despite your efforts, your contributions go unnoticed, and you receive minimal feedback or recognition for your work.

In some cases, you may find that others are taking credit for your work.

3. Isolation

You feel increasingly isolated from your colleagues and are excluded from team activities or social gatherings such as birthday get-togethers or even wedding invitations.

A common one that I come across quite regularly when working with clients who have or feel that they are in the process of being ‘quietly fired’ is being excluded from WhatsApp communications.

I’ve discussed the pain of social rejection in previous articles/videos. The need to be part of the ‘group’ or team is deeply rooted in our DNA as a survival tool. If our early ancestors were separated from the tribe, it meant almost certain death.

Teams are our modern-day tribes.

We also know now, through brain imaging, that the same pain centres that light up when we experience physical pain are activated when we feel rejected by friends, family or colleagues. So, enforced social isolation literally FEELS painful.

4. Micromanagement

Your boss begins to micromanage your work excessively, undermining your autonomy and confidence. They want to look at every little thing you do and judge you harshly – usually without any evidence.

5. Shifting Goals and Expectations

You experience ambiguity regarding your role, objectives, or performance expectations, making it difficult to meet changing standards. What was acceptable one day may not be the next.

This type of inconsistency causes confusion and feelings of insecurity because you really don’t know where you stand from one day or even one task to the next.

6. Negative Performance Reviews

You receive disproportionately negative performance evaluations despite your efforts to meet expectations.

Incidentally, you should NEVER find out in a performance review that you’re underperforming. Good managers will talk to you constructively as and when problems first occur.

No ‘underperforming’ rating should come as a shock. It’s a HUGE red flag for me when clients tell me this has happened, and unfortunately, it’s common.

7. Unexplained Changes In Behaviour

You notice sudden changes in your boss’s behaviour towards you, such as becoming distant or dismissive.

I’ve talked in many of my articles and videos about narcissistic bosses and the narcissistic abuse cycle. Step one is love-bombing when they are data-mining – making you feel amazing so that you let your guard down and tell them the information they can use against you later, and the second is devaluation.

During the devaluation phase, you will see a distinct change in their behaviour. It typically starts with one small thing—a putdown or a passive-aggressive comment—just something that makes you feel uneasy. However, it typically escalates.

Of course, any one of these things might mean nothing on its own. It might just mean your boss is new to managing people, or they have things going on themselves that mean they’ve taken their eye off the ball, or they’re finding it hard to manage their own ‘stuff’.

However, if it’s sustained or a number of these things are happening, I would recommend proceeding with caution.

The Wrap-Up

Quiet firing may operate in the shadows, but its effects are no less profound than those of overt termination.

By recognising the signs, trusting your instincts, and taking proactive steps to address the situation, you can protect your interests and advocate for fair treatment.

Remember, you have the right to a workplace environment that values your contributions and supports your professional growth.

By asserting yourself and seeking support when needed, you can navigate the challenges of quiet firing with resilience and determination.

What Next?

As I mentioned earlier, in the extended YouTube version of this article, I provide actionable steps for you to address this situation if you think it’s happening to you. You can watch it here.

Finally, if you enjoyed this article and haven’t yet signed up to get my weekly newsletter straight to your inbox, hit the ‘Newsletter’ tab at the top of the page.

As always, thanks for your continued support.

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