What to Do If Your Boss is Trying to Get You to Quit

If you’ve ever had a sneaking suspicion that your boss is trying to make you quit, your instincts just might be right. Many managers are reluctant to engage with employees and provide honest feedback, according to Mike P., an executive with a provider of cloud-based mobile workforce solutions (and who wishes to remain anonymous in order to speak candidly).

Rather than confronting the issues, some bosses may try to goad you into quitting by using a passive-aggressive technique called “managing out.” For instance, your boss may suddenly exclude you from important meetings or re-assign you to routine work or low-profile projects. Or he may give you the cold shoulder in the hopes that you’ll take the hint and leave.

What should you do if you’re made to feel like persona non grata? Here are some things to consider, as well as some options. 

Decide If You Want to Stay or Go

Before you take action, ask yourself: “What is my desired outcome? Do I want to try to make this work, or should I lay low and continue collecting a paycheck while I look for another job?”

“When your boss tries to force you out, it gives you a feeling of powerlessness,” explained Bob Fleshner, president of EPICOACH. “Making a stay-or-go decision not only helps you formulate a go forward strategy, it gives you back a sense of control.”

There are several things to consider as you ponder your next steps, added Madeleine Blanchard, director of coaching for The Ken Blanchard Companies. For example, have you ignored critical feedback from your boss? Are there things you haven’t done? Do you have the desire and ability to perform at a higher level? Is there an interpersonal issue?

“Chemistry is a big deal and people can’t get personality transplants,” Blanchard noted. If you and your boss aren’t on the same wavelength, transferring to another team or changing companies might be your best option.

There’s also the chance that your boss is under a lot of stress and may be neglecting everyone, or is falling back on bad habits and only spending time with his or her “favorites.” While those behaviors are unacceptable, it means that you’re not being managed out—you just have a bad boss. In that case, you need to decide how much you can take.

“I’m a big believer that fortune favors the brave in these situations,” Blanchard said. “While each situation is unique, generally, I think you owe it to yourself to seek clarity while preparing to launch a job search.”

Approaching Your Boss

If things haven’t gone too far, you may be able to work through the issues with your manager. Simply explain that you sense that your boss is not happy with you or your work as of late. Ask if you are correct, and if so, what has changed.

If you’re feeling angry or emotional, rehearse your conversation in advance so you remain calm and collected. Don’t complain to HR, blame others or act like a victim. Be open to coaching and suggestions; but be prepared for the worst possible outcome.

There’s always the possibility that you’ve misread the tea leaves and your conversation will clear the air, Fleshner noted. However, there’s also the chance that your actions may accelerate your departure. For example, your boss may come clean and ask you to resign or put you on a performance plan.

“If that happens, you need to be prepared to switch gears and start negotiating an exit package,” Fleshner added. But at least you’ll really know where you stand.

7 Responses to “What to Do If Your Boss is Trying to Get You to Quit”

  1. No, Step 1 is to document your bosses behaviors. It will be essential should you leave, under whatever circumstances, and the company denies your unemployment.

  2. hollydollydoo

    This just happened to me. No matter what I did, it was never on time or correct. I got my review and a list of things that I supposedly did not complete. I showed him that these things were completed, and he said ‘oh, you’re just giving me excuses’.

    Every time I asked for advice and feedback, he would scream at me -‘why isn’t this done yet? Why is this taking so long?’.

    He would dictate unachievable deadlines for tasks, and scream and yell at me when they were not complete.

    Situations like this are a no-win. It’s better to cut your losses and move on.

    Yes, it is helpful (but exhausting) to document this type of behavior. But the only way you will be turned down for unemployment is for insubordination or for violating a company policy.

  3. I recently was recently fired, and it took a year of tolerating the cold shoulder, and complaints that my tasks were taking too long. I was trying to prove a point because they boasted they never have fired anyone they hired, I knew why then as I watched several temporary help get rushed out, they push people out. After seeing they did not want me to take time I requested out, I could not really passively look for a job. The time I did request out was approved but it slowly put me on their wrong side, I was even asked to put in requests for time off 3 weeks ahead of time, I just agreed. The occasional Doctor visit and 2 car break downs in the past year are hardly a reason to mark anyone as a bad worker. I was polite even under adversity and when my car broke down they had a cow over that. Since I did not want to quit, living week to week, I forced their hand by requesting a few hours off to go to a routine doctor visit and that did it. Did I take too long doing tasks, perhaps I did, but those same tasks were passed to other workers and they also took long. I just watched, and on many occasions those tasks passed on took the other workers just as long and longer, but that was OK for the management. There should be laws that help with that but I am content that I achieved my goal of proving that are not honest and just want to use workers as over achievers and not give anything back. I say if you want good workers then give them something to be proud of to be a part of their organization. Employers retain quality employees if they themselves are willing to give a little. My weapon with them was patience and no complaining, I did what they asked of me and completed it. They were just unreasonable and I needed tom get away from them on my terms, I achieved that.

    • Corp America is the biggest mafia on the planet. They do underhanded illegal garbage every day to destroy peoples livelihoods. Bullying, cohesiveness, lying.. They operate the same as criminal politicians and no one does anything about how slimy they are. No positive corp speak is ever going to cover this up. Corp America is a garbage model for any sane person to expect results from. All they do is create a toxic atmosphere and you and me both have to survive in it. Its disgusting. There has to be something better. Corp America sucks period.

  4. I find it hilarious with trying to appease the evil entity that is corporate america. Its useless to try to survive in this environment. Were talking about crooked dishonest psychopaths that are managers, ceo’s and the like. And no matter how bad you try on a human level. These criminals always find an illegal underhanded way to fire someone because they just don’t like the person. I find a lot of corporate managers to be inflexible low iq bullies. Working for the biggest criminal organization outside the mafia is a dumb idea overall in supporting a family. Corporate America needs to be highly regulated and forced to follow the rule of law because these predatory psychotic bullies are out of control and they are destroying the country with how they tear people down both mentally and physically.. That is the real problem.. Sorry, but I prefer to cut through the bs of corporate slavery and place blame where it belongs.

  5. I had a manager come up to me several different times and say things like “Do you really want to work here?” and “I don’t know what to do anymore. It’s either me or you that works here.” Every time I called them out without hesitation, saying “I feel like you are setting me up to quit and say I don’t want to work here anymore.” Each time I got a “no this isn’t the case” response. Needless to say they let me go months later stating performance issues and my passive aggressive behavior, even though I was very direct every time. These manipulative people are ridiculous!

  6. Diane Morrison

    I recently told some one that I know they are gossiping about me at work and that I plan on getting a lawyer. Know I see they want me to quit I have saved the patterns they are using. I requested having Thursday and Friday off because we are short handed and I got them off until they hired someone who need them off. I have not had a weekend off for a very long time a girl who got hired after me just got a weekend off and then told me to try and upset me. She said wow I got the weekend off and I don’t know how. My own child worked there also and would drop hints like I think they are putting cameras in the front now did you see the hole in for them. Know mind you I fully know what the gossip is about and have put it out there that I know and some times it builds up because I will set and rethink about it all. The stress is very much getting to me. But I don’t want to give up because I want to be stronger and not care what people think of me. What do I do if I back down and quit I look guilty. I’m not and refuse to be treated this way any more.