Some 20-plus years ago, I was asked by the company for which I worked to fly from Connecticut to Virginia for a meeting on a Friday afternoon. It turned out to be the most amateurish, unprofessional, and bureaucratically typical exercise in passive-aggressive message-sending to which I’d ever borne witness. The recipient of the message was yours truly.
From the moment I walked in the room until the moment we all departed, I was virtually invisible. I was barely greeted. None of my input was acknowledged, let alone heeded. It was clear my presence was being deliberately marginalized and minimized.
After the meeting, on the way back to the airport, I said to my colleague, “It’s been nice working with you.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m gone,” I replied. “I haven’t been told yet. But that’s a minor detail, at most.”
Monday morning, the axe fell. In hindsight and among other wastes — weighing the prices of round-trip airfare and a rental car — that meeting seemed a fairly pricey attempt at humiliation. But what do I know?
Having experienced that, and though I’m by no means the sharpest knife in the drawer, a recent article in Forbes suggests the rest of us may need some help divining meaning from manifestations of disrespectfully indirect corporate conduct. The article — “Ten Signs Your Boss Wants You Out” — makes it apparent, at least by implication, that many of us may be incapable of recognizing anything short of being straitjacketed and rolled to the door on a hand truck as indications of our having become expendable.
Accordingly, and just in case we have, indeed, become as dumb as we look, I offer here ten more signs that your manager wants you out:
- Your space in the employee parking lot has been replaced by a crater with a sign in front of it that says: Vacancy.
- When you swipe your employee ID through the scanner at the security desk, the LED readout says: Tilt.
- As you walk into the elevator to go up to your floor, everyone who was already in the elevator walks out.
- When you get to your office, there’s a sign on the door that says: This space leased by Arthur Murray.
- All of the personal possessions from your former office are in a box labeled: Rummage Sale.
- Each of your co-workers says the same thing on seeing you: “The face is familiar, but I don’t believe we’ve met.”
- You go into the break room for a cup of coffee, only to find your personalized mug has a lovely arrangement of African Violets in it.
- When you walk into the HR Department to file an inquiry, everyone is reading The Management Genius of Joseph Stalin.
- The head of the company’s Security Department asks you if you’d like to file a Missing Person’s Report on yourself.
- Your Mom calls you on your cell phone to ask if you’ve found a new job yet.
The first time you think you’re invisible, you’ve been invisible for longer than you think.
Get out. It’s just a job.