If you feel like your boss has suddenly started hassling you about tiny, and seemingly irrelevant aspects of your job, then a red flag should go up in your mind. This is another tell-tale sign that your boss is on the hunt for an employee to terminate — you.
Your boss may be trying to “build a record” of documented mistakes you have made, in order to justify terminating you. Your boss probably has not given you any negative feedback for years, if ever. And when the boss evaluates the major parts of your job — everything is fine. So, instead of noting your solid performance and moving on, your boss redoubles his or her efforts to find something, anything, that you are doing wrong.
This leads your boss into the tiny minutiae of your job — items that you can’t really say are unimportant, but are often get done not exactly “by the book.” Your boss comes in, and makes a huge deal about something you are doing that is not EXACTLY “by the book.”
Everything works fine. And your boss has never cared. Until now.
But to your boss, this is an end-of-the-world problem you’ve caused.
Step back and realize, your boss’s reaction fits with how bad the boss wants to let you go; your boss’s reaction does not fit with how bad a mistake you actually made.
What Should You Do?
1. Ask your boss what is going on
Be polite about this. Don’t sneer and be sarcastic. Simply state that its obvious that something has changed, and ask what happened? Why the change?
You’re probably going to hear something like “Well I found one obvious error in your work, so I’m worried that there are other errors in your work that are not so obvious.” This is how your boss will justify tearing through your desk and computer in search of any mistake that could possibly justify terminating you. How to deal with this is the next tip…
2. Ask what your boss needs to see from you in order to win their trust back
The directness and honesty of saying this will knock your boss off-balance. For just a moment, they will think to themselves “Maybe there is a better employee here than I realized…” You must seize that moment. Follow up with something like, “I want to show you that I still deserve the trust you once had in me. What would you like to see from me in order to get that trust back?”
If your boss starts telling you what they want to see, then you’ve won. That’s because a boss is not going to give an employee a list of goals, and then terminate the employee the next day. So take careful note of that list that comes pouring out of your boss’s mouth — make sure they are measurable goals, and achieve them. You will save your job.
BUT, if your boss does not respond with a list of things he or she wants to see from you, then you know your job situation is truly dire. For example, your boss may say, “I don’t know, let me think on that one.” Or, “I’m surprised to hear you say that… wish you had said that earlier…” (and then walks away).
So if your boss doesn’t give you a list of things to improve, and continues hassling you about the tiniest aspects of your work, then you know you are one step further down the plank toward termination. It may be time to consider legal defenses, that do not rely on changing your boss’s mind about you.
Have you had a boss that micro manages your work, hassling you about the tinies aspects of your work? Tell us about it in the comments section below.