How to know when your boss wants you to leave

by Rose Sneyd14 Jun 2013

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.


  • by Jane 14/06/2013 2:39:00 PM

    The "warning signs" are actual signs of discrimination and harassment and violate legislation! For any manager reading those "warning signs" and think it reflects their own behaviour, be warned, you are breaking the law and exposing your organisation to massive fines and damaging your brand.

  • by Gerard 14/06/2013 3:47:01 PM

    These signs sould like a checklist of behaviours both my GM and I were subjected to by our CEO and another GM on the executive - pretty poor form considering the level these behaviours were coming from and reputation this company had...... at this level it is pretty hard to prove these are discriminatory behaviours but you are correct Jane, I wouldn't tolerate any of my reports carrying on in this fashion.

  • by Pearl 15/06/2013 7:13:00 AM

    From my previous 5 years experience, CEO and GM's do have a check list in front of them everyday when they are bullying staff to leave the non for profit organisation that they manage........ The "check list" they have is to tick off on the check list just how close they are to pushing the staff member 'over the edge' to just leave.... I am certain that CEO and GM's also get away with this, by destroying evidence when staff members actually do an exit report and how come they do their own 'internel HR audit' by certain staff members who are best friends of CEO & GM's of non for profit organisations ??????