Work endings are not always swift and dramatic. When an employer wants to get rid of you, it can sometimes be a slow, deliberate process. One way your employer could give you the boot is by onboarding a new hire with the intention of replacing you with this person. Sometimes the signs are obvious, but there are times when you can be blindsided. Here are six red flags that you’re showing the ropes to your replacement.
1. You’re asked to show the new temp everything you do—and you’re not going on vacation
If your knowledge is suddenly important and your supervisor insists you share the details of your day-to-day responsibilities with a new hire, something’s up. You should be especially concerned if no corporate expansion plans have been announced, you’re not going to be away from the office for an extended period of time, and you’re not getting promoted. Liz Ryan, CEO and founder of Human Workplace, says this request usually demonstrates clear intentions to push you out the door:
God bless our colleagues who lack emotional intelligence, because they broadcast their intentions. One way they do it is to suddenly have an interest in everything you know about your job. They’ll say one random day, “Why don’t you train Elissa, our temp, on how you create newsletters and marketing brochures, and teach her how to do trade shows?” Cross-training is great, but there should be a particular need for it, because cross-training takes a lot of time. If you feel sketchy about somebody’s sudden desire to pick your entire brain, trust your feelings.
2. Your trainee has identical responsibilities
When you read the memo about the new hire, you start to get that sinking feeling. As you scroll through the job description, you notice a lot of the tasks the new hire will be doing are exactly what you are doing right now. Coincidence? Nope. You are actually just filling in until the newbie gets the hang of your job. Happy packing.
3. The new hire is attending meetings in your place
Another sign the new hire is taking over is if you’re not invited to important meetings you used to attend regularly, but the new hire’s attendance is requested. If your boss starts asking him or her for opinions he once asked you, this is also a clue. Your fate is sealed if the new hire is given permission to make decisions you used to make. You are basically old news at this point. Unless you’ve made up your mind to leave, Money Instructor says you may want to consider having a meeting with your supervisor to discuss the sudden change.
There are meetings you are not invited to. There is information you don’t seem to receive. Decisions are made without your input. If these are meetings you used to attend, or data you used to be copied on, or decisions you used to have input to, you may well have cause for concern. Your immediate reaction may be to feel defensive, hurt, or angry. Probably the last thing you want to do is discuss what appears to be your slip in status. But that’s exactly what you have to do.
4. Your workload gets lighter
As your trainee acquires more skills (thanks to you), you may notice your workload gradually lightens. The work assignments will slow down and then trickle to a point where organizing your to-do list takes less than five minutes. Before you know it, managing your email inbox becomes the most meaningful task of your day.
5. You get a new, ambiguous job title
Don’t get too happy if a new job title is bestowed upon you while you’re training the new guy—especially if the title doesn’t come with a pay raise. You know you’re in trouble if someone asks what you do, but you can’t explain it because you don’t even know what you do anymore.
6. You’re demoted
A demotion is not always immediately obvious. One telling sign the person you’re training is your replacement is if you’re suddenly moved to a “special projects” team. Sometimes being placed on a special project is the kiss of death. It will likely be the last place you’ll work until you’re asked to leave. It’s just the company’s way of buying time until your replacement is properly trained. If you suddenly get pushed down to a lower position, it’s time to start figuring out why. If you have been performing badly, the answer is obvious, but if you have not had any job performance issues, it’s probably time to start packing your desk.
“Special projects are a euphemism for busy work. When you’re assigned to special projects, it means the boss has lost so much confidence in your ability to lead that he’s trying to get you off the high-profile projects you had been working on until he can find a replacement for you,” said career expert Meridith Levinson.