How to know when your boss wants you to leave

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Findings from a recent Career Builder survey have revealed the extent to which negative manager-worker relationships exist in the workplace, and the warning signs that managers use.***

According to the research, more than one quarter (27%) of bosses have a direct report that they would like to see leave their organisation. While the results were the same across gender, there was a significant difference in age groups. Younger managers (25-34) were more likely to say that they had an unwanted employee than older managers (55+) by a margin of eight points: 32% versus 24%.

While 42% of managers would issue a formal warning when dealing with an employee that they thought should leave, the respondents to this survey also owned up to a lot of passive aggressive behaviour. Some of the warning signs they’d issue to employees included:


  • Pointing out shortcomings in the employee’s performance more often (27%)
  • Reducing his or her responsibilities (21%)
  • Hiring someone else to eventually replace the employee (12%)
  • Moving the employee to another work area (8%)
  • Keeping the employee out of the loop regarding new company developments (8%)
  • Communicating primarily via email instead of in person or over the phone (7%)
  • Not involving the employee in certain projects (6%)
  • Not inviting him or her to social gatherings with co-workers (3%)


“It’s important that managers be as direct as possible when dealing with employees that, for whatever reason, aren’t a good fit for their teams,” Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at Career Builder, said. While Haefner said it was a good thing that a large percentage of respondents would openly confront a difficult employee with a formal warning, she observed that the above warnings that were also used would only prolong a negative situation.

“It’s important that workers be aware of such warning signs, and if necessary, take steps to improve the situation,” Haefner added.

***The survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of online careers site Career Builder. More than 2,000 US employees responded between February and March of this year.

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