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How Managers Make Unwanted Employees Go Away

Updated on January 23, 2017
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FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

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When You're a Target on the Boss' Radar

Perhaps you've had personal conflicts with various co-workers or you've spoken your mind once too often. Maybe you're a negative nelly, perpetually late, resistant to change, struggling with job performance, or all of the above. You could also be the victim of dirty office politics (I cast no judgments here). Whatever it is, your boss just wants you gone — as in, "out of the picture."

If you get the sinking feeling that your manager is simply tired of dealing with you, then you need to know what will likely come your way before it smacks you right in the middle of your cubicle. I can help to clue you in.

2 Ways to Go: Make It Quick or Make It Painful

Having been an HR representative for two Fortune 500 companies, I can tell you on a practical level that there are two ways your boss can facilitate your exit.

  1. He (or she) can take the direct approach, firing you quickly and decisively. Examples include discharging you for violating a company rule, strategically eliminating your job, or firing you for poor performance.
  2. More often, however, a manager opts for the passive-aggressive approach, wherein you (the unwanted employee) unwittingly participate in your own termination. The manager will subtly make you feel so unwelcome that you eventually fire yourself by quitting or moving to a different department.

Either way, you lose your job. If you're among your boss' least favorite employees, consider that what you thought was managerial incompetence may actually be something else entirely! (Take a moment to let that sink in.)

Signs You Have a Sneaky Smart Manager

The task of managing others is difficult work. A good manager does the following:

  • sets reasonable goals and work objectives
  • motivates workers
  • measures an employee's progress against goals
  • communicates success and shortfalls
  • rewards accordingly
  • provides ongoing training and development
  • offers timely, fair, candid performance feedback
  • affords opportunity for improvement.1

In contrast, the sneaky smart manager is a lazy person who would rather short-circuit the performance management process than do the more challenging aspects of his (or her) job. Faced with a disliked or low-performing employee, he/she, instead, invests in strategies to get rid of the "problem" employee.

He/she is often poorly skilled at addressing subordinates' training and developmental needs or at managing altogether. Thus, it's easier for him/her to blame the employee than double down on managing.

1. Conflict Avoidance

He/she is also too cowardly and ill-prepared to fire the employee directly. This would likely involve defending his/her decision to HR, company lawyers, upper management, and/or a government agency (i.e., should the employee file for unemployment or wrongful discharge).

The sneaky smart manager wants to save face and avoid conflict so s/he takes the passive-aggressive way out by attempting to make the employee miserable enough to quit. But this, too, has its risks — especially if the reason the employee is "unwanted" has anything to do with unlawful discrimination, retaliation, whistle-blowing, etc.

2. Constructive Discharge

An employee who feels they have been "forced" to quit may complain of constructive discharge, meaning it was not their free and voluntary choice to resign, but because the employer deliberately made working conditions so intolerable that any reasonable person would have felt obligated to make such a change.2 Constructive discharge is often challenging to prove, however.

Important Note: If you have questions about your particular situation, always consult an attorney in your jurisdiction — preferably before you quit.

Reader Poll

Have you ever gotten on your manager's "bad side" and become his or her "unwanted" employee?

See results

Are You Being Targeted?

Below are 12 ways that sneaky smart managers typically use to target unwanted employees. They cleverly wear down disliked and low-performing employees until they shout "mercy" with a resignation letter. Chances are, if you truly are an unwanted employee, then you'll recognize more than a few techniques.

As you review the list, concentrate on the overall pattern of how you and your boss interact. Then, compare your experience with that of co-workers. If the treatment is substantially different, that's a big clue about your future.

12 Methods Used to Get Rid of Employees

Strategy 1: Death by Overwork

Do all the assignments seem to land on your desk while teammates kick back and watch funny YouTube videos?

The sneaky manager can turn up the heat using disproportionately high workloads. Then, he'll add tight or unreasonable deadlines. These techniques are meant to increase your stress levels. Even if you adjust to the high-octane work demands, you'll pay a hefty price in terms of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.

Strategy 2: Resource Limitation

Leave it to the sneaky manager to discreetly limit your resources, therefore, making it harder for you to do your job efficiently. If you speak up, he tries to convince you that it's really not an objective problem. You're just overreacting (probably from being overworked). He urges you to "get creative" or "do the best with what you have" because his "hands are tied."

Strategy 3: "Go Solve It Yourself"

In this innovative lead-from-behind strategy, you ask your boss for help with a significant problem. However, the sneaky boss shoves it back on you by saying that a good employee does not present problems to the boss. The good employee presents solutions. (Nice deflection!)

While that sounds cute, managers are supposed to provide problem-solving assistance when an employee is stumped. Instead, the sneaky boss instructs you to generate x number of solutions to your problem, often on-the-spot. Usually, none of the solutions is sufficient. That's why you sought assistance from the manager in the first place! It feels like a dog chasing its own tail.

Strategy 4: Assigning Tasks That Don't Fit the Employee's Competency Level

The sneaky boss opts for one of two extremes. He assigns either

  • unchallenging tasks that are substantially below your skill level or
  • tasks that are far too difficult and, thus, guarantee failure.

While everyone must perform some mundane tasks as a part of their job, getting stuck with too many can be boring, frustrating, and growth-suffocating. And, unless you have appropriate guidance and support, tasks that are too challenging can lead to anger and embarrassing public failure.

Strategy 5: Perpetual Distraction

When the sneaky boss is with the unwanted employee, he mentally checks out by texting, answering phone calls, or avoiding eye contact. He tries to rush the conversation along by saying things like, "Yep, yep, yep." And, if he consistently cannot bother to turn your way when you're trying to talk to him, then he's giving you the proverbial cold shoulder.

Strategy 6: Clamming up on Small Talk

Do you feel like you're in a social desert?

Having made it clear that your purpose for being there is to work, the sneaky manager eliminates all unnecessary conversation. Chit-chat is gone. He doesn't ask you friendly questions about your vacation or weekend, how your family is, etc. He doesn't care.

All of that non-work-related social interaction would just make you seem more like a person to him, and that would be ... well, awkward. Co-workers take note and they may stop engaging with you, too.

Strategy 7: Formalizing Communication Channels

Claiming he's extraordinarily busy, the sneaky manager is personally inaccessible — at least to you, anyway. You must communicate with him primarily via email rather than through quick phone calls or by dropping by his office (as his door is always shut).

You may notice, too, that you have been excluded from certain meetings and have been left off key emails. If you inquire, he'll provide a reasonable rationale (e.g., an oversight).

Strategy 8: Stifling Creativity With Bureaucracy

Don't you go getting all creative! The sneaky boss is an enthusiasm and creativity killer. His favorite mantras include:

  • "We don't do it that way."
  • "We've tried that before, and it was a disaster."
  • "We don't have time for that."
  • "There's no way the ___ department would approve that."

Strategy 9: Limiting Rewards and Recognition

Everyone makes mistakes, but the sneaky smart boss ensures that everyone knows about yours. Be prepared for criticism in front of an audience. He may also email you criticism in lieu of a conversation or as a recap of a tongue-lashing you had 20 minutes ago. That's called "papering the file," and it's a bad sign.

On the flip side, when you make a praiseworthy contribution, don't expect the sneaky manager to high-five you. He'll instead take credit for your work by saving your creative ideas and presenting them as his own. He'll also give accolades to someone else or downplay your achievement altogether. That's just how it works.

Strategy 10: Aggression by Micromanagement

Micromanagers have serious control and trust issues, thus, they monitor and regulate the minutiae of their subordinate's job. Micromanagement is mismanagement, and, unfortunately, the tendency becomes especially brutal when there is an employee on the micromanager's radar.

Such bosses are often sneaky smart, and they typically engage in the following behaviors that drive their employees crazy:

  • requesting constant revisions
  • issuing frequent report requests
  • asking for documentation rather than trusting your word
  • making sure you know you're being watched

Do you feel anxious yet?

Strategy 11: Performance Management by the Book

When you're on the sneaky manager's radar, be prepared to be performance managed closely. You'll hear "accountability" and "deliverables" constantly. Your punctuality and how you're spending your time become very important. Your mistakes are magnified and documented. Expect to be counseled on minor rule violations that might otherwise go unnoticed.

In case you decide not to quit, your performance review rapidly becomes Plan B.

Strategy 12: No Room for Advancement

There's no better motivation buster than learning you work in a career graveyard. The sneaky manager bypasses you for promotions but always has "reasons." He informs you that there's no way you can realistically meet your career goals, and you have limited opportunities to learn new things. Read between the lines: he's inviting you to work elsewhere. What's it going to take?

Consider whether there is any truth in your boss' feedback.  Could you be too comfortable in your current role?  Maybe you need a new career challenge elsewhere -- a fresh start perhaps?  Begin with a clean desk and a new pair of shoes.
Consider whether there is any truth in your boss' feedback. Could you be too comfortable in your current role? Maybe you need a new career challenge elsewhere -- a fresh start perhaps? Begin with a clean desk and a new pair of shoes. | Source

Tips: Stay Smart, Stay Strong

It's important to be realistic with yourself if you're a disliked or are a low-performing employee. Anticipate that a sneaky smart boss who has not managed you well may engage in some of these 12 strategies to get rid of you. As you prepare for your exit, keep these tips in mind:

  • Turbo charge your performance if it's an issue. Perceptions sometimes change!
  • Stay calm and avoid outbursts. You don't want to provide a legitimate reason for them to fire you. Also avoid emotional venting to coworkers. It'll get back to your boss, and he'll know his efforts are working.
  • Consider whether you want to complain to HR or upper management.
  • Read and understand any company policies that affect you.
  • Look for allies. They may be your support now and your references later.
  • Take care of yourself emotionally, mentally, and physically. Consult a counselor to talk through your options as you move forward.
  • Don't make rash decisions (e.g., quitting in anger).
  • Double down on your job search. Revise your resume and practice your interview skills. A lot has changed since you last looked for a job.

7 Points to Consider When Quitting Your Job

Issue
Description
Your Next Job
Do you have your next job lined up? It's easier to get another job if you're already employed.
Your Finances
How are your finances? Do you have a 6-8 month emergency fund? Quitting typically makes you ineligible for unemployment benefits. And once you hand in a resignation letter, all bets are probably off for severance.
The Resignation Letter
If you're going to file an unemployment or discrimination claim, that resignation letter will certainly be Exhibit A. Regardless, make it brief. You don't need to give specific reasons for moving on.
The Exit Interview
Typically, nothing useful comes out of exit interviews for the departing employee. Unless you are lodging a formal complaint, it's just water under a burned bridge.
Co-Workers
Anticipate negative reactions from co-workers, especially if team workload is high. Try to share the news with them personally. As much as you want to, don't gloat or bad mouth your boss or the company on the way out.
Equipping Yourself
Before turning in your resignation, obtain key information you'll need (e.g., examples of your work, copies of performance reviews, contact information for boss/co-workers).
Amount of Notice to Give
Two weeks' notice is a common business courtesy. Companies sometimes appreciate longer notices (e.g., 3-4 weeks).

Notes

1Wall Street Journal. (n.d.). What do Managers do? Retrieved August 8, 2014, from http://guides.wsj.com/management/developing-a-leadership-style/what-do-managers-do/.

2Duhaime, L. (n.d.). Constructive Discharge Legal Definition. Retrieved August 8, 2014, from http://www.duhaime.org/LegalDictionary/C/ConstructiveDischarge.aspx.

© 2014 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      Eric - HR reps can do that. Not all of them are like that. Something had to prompt them to concentrate on you?

    • profile image

      Eric 2 months ago

      My HR sides with my manager and gang up against me.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      Efficient Admin - That would be a good one! Thank you.

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 4 months ago from Charlotte, NC

      I'd love to see an article on how employees can make an unwanted manager go away.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      Mary - So many jobs disappeared and are continuing to disappear during my lifetime, often silently. Even if computers take over, there must be the programmers, technicians, and data strategists to keep it going. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      Mary 4 months ago

      pretty soon, nobody will have to "work" as computers will take over completely. I am looking forward to this.

      This judgmental hodgepodge called work is distracting the human race to move ahead.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

      New managers - Well said. Not a smart move on their behalf. Thanks for commenting.

    • profile image

      New managers 5 months ago

      Frequently, when younger managers get hired, they come in like gangbusters, working 80 hours a week and make a great impression on their bosses. They then consolidate their power by getting rid of older employees to put in place their own hires. They pick the older employees' brains before running them out. So unfair.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

      HR Executive - You're towing the party line and I do not disagree with you. It's how managers SHOULD behave. However, I present here the realities of what managers may do because 1) HR doesn't know everything that's going on and 2) there are a LOT of terrible managers out there at ALL levels who masquerade as leaders. Sadly, HR often thinks it knows what's going on in the organization but it's not always the case. Managers who haven't done the right thing in coaching, progressive discipline, etc. often resort to the easy way out. That's what is presented here. Again, I applaud you for your commitment to honest, open and fair treatment of your employees.

    • profile image

      HR Executive 8 months ago

      Our company doesn't tolerate managers who adopt 'sneaky' ways. We just look for a Manager who can manage their people properly through respectful engagement and communication. If we have this going on, it puts the company at legal risk. We actually remove the managers who behave like this in our organization as we adopt a respectful fair treatment policy. The motto is, if you can't manage people that have different personalities, then you shouldn't be managing.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

      Rajan - Thanks for stopping by. It's often easier for third parties to see than it is for the person involved.

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 15 months ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Excellent hub Flourish. I can certainly relate to a few of these strategies.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 16 months ago from USA

      pinto2011 - I like how you phrase that! We all need to be in an environment where we can be appreciated and make a difference. Have a great week.

    • pinto2011 profile image

      Subhas 16 months ago from New Delhi, India

      You have really done great justice to this subject. I always think it is better to quit than to blubber. It is always nice to be where am wanted......

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA

      Chloe - Good for you. Now, keep your chin up and don't look back.

    • profile image

      Chloe 17 months ago

      I'm so happy to have the opportunity to leave my awful job. I gave them two weeks too long, should have made my resignation effective immediately. A work place should be nice and pleasant since one is giving up the best day, everyday of life in general, from 8-5pm, to be inside an office with losers.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Audrey -That is so sad, but it isn't surprising because for some people work is everything, Thanks for providing that anecdote.

    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 2 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Flourish - Excellent hub with lots of effort put into it. In my experience, these means of getting rid of employees is so true. The workplace is a complicated scenario. Politics and favoritism come into play, and all the variables you have mentioned. It seems like it has even become more complicated. You have incompetent employees and incompetent supervisors and sometimes the good folks leave. I know of an employee who was charged unfairly, and when it hit the paper, he committed suicide. This may be a rare incident, but it is not fair. But what is fair? Sharing. Blessings, Audrey

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Rangoon House - Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Have a good weekend.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 2 years ago from Australia

      Gosh. If it isn't a graveyard, it's certainly a minefield!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      ezzly - Yes, it can get ugly indeed when people have their coworkers pitted against them. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

    • ezzly profile image

      ezzly 2 years ago

      Excellent article voted up. I've seen and heard way too many cases of constructive dismissal it can get pretty nasty especially when co workers get involved! Thanks for writing this !

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      vespawoolf - It's very unfortunate that it happens this way, as it produces so much stress and strain in the entire work group. People can figure out what's happening and they basically have to pick a side. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 2 years ago from Peru, South America

      It´s difficult to be in this situation. I´ve heard many stories. Managers are often under pressure, but it doesn´t justify these low tactics. As you pointed out, the manager lacks directness or skills if he can´t just directly deal with the situation. Thank you for this useful information written from experience.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Efficient Admin - We used to joke about someone like that (especially a long timer who could get away with anything) as being someone who must have naked pictures of an executive. It seems like the only explanation sometimes, huh?

    • Efficient Admin profile image

      Efficient Admin 2 years ago from Charlotte, NC

      The very first paragraph of this hub describes to a tee a non-management coworker in my office who is also loud, overbearing, does not listen, talks over people, arrogant and everyone is scratching their heads why she was not laid off in the last round. She has been with the company 30 years and management knows she has issues but they seem to tiptoe around her. She is also a Frenemy described in your other hub. None of the women in the office trust her not one bit. Everyone is wondering how much longer she will be there.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Audrey - Forewarned is forearmed. Thank you for the kind kudos, and have a great weekend.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Really an excellent article on the subject--but it does make me sad

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      blueheron - In another hub, Time To Take Action: When the Boss Is A Bully Or Worse, I touch on documentation. Especially if the order comes from above, you'll probably eventually find yourself out of a job (through quitting, downsizing, getting fired, etc.), but you can preserve your professional and personal integrity, health, and self-esteem.

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 2 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Normally and employer would prefer not to fire you because if you quit you will be unable to collect unemployment. So that part is easy to understand. Usually you will not see your boss communicating with you by email or in writing. He/she is more likely to insist on engaging face-to-face (while usually being unavailable) for either email or face-t0-face discussion. He/she does NOT want written documentation, particularly if it has a date on it. YOUR strategy should be to aim to put all requests for direction, supplies--whatever you need--in an email. Go to any evaluation armed with email records showing your attempts to communicate your needs and issues, and probably also showing that your boss never responded to your emails or otherwise never followed through.

      My daughter recently had this type of problem with a college teacher who continually asked for face-to-face discussions--in which there would be no written proof of anything that was said.

      Often, too, the decision to fire you comes from on high. The boss or bosses that used to love you has been ordered to find a way to get rid of you. This happened to me once. I went from being the bosses' pet to noticing them following me around spying on me, looking for something to criticize.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      suzettenaples - Having investigated employee complaints and thus been privy to all perspectives, I learned that just when I thought I had heard it all, someone would invent a new twist on how to make another person's life hell at work. Thanks for the kind words. Have a great week.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      MizBejabbers - Good for you that you took charge. While no employee is untouchable or "bullet proof" it is possible to fight back if you play your cards right and have the energy for it.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      blueheron - It's an ugly thing to watch, eh?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Redneck Lady Luck - I hope you are happier and healthier for having moved on. Thank you for telling your story, as it makes people realize they are not alone.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - Thanks so much! I really appreciate your support! Have a terrific week!

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Excellent and comprehensive article. You cover everything that could happen on the job. It is too bad that there are such petty managers on the job. Your suggestions on what to do about it are excellent. You have really thought this through.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 2 years ago

      These are very good suggestions, and most people face one or more of these situations during their career. May I add one more? Document things that you feel are being done to you. If a supervisor or administrator says something out of context or you know not to be true, document it. Keep a file of this, especially if someone is slandering you. Keep your file at home or on a thumb drive because it may someday be useful. I say this because it happened to me.

      When I threatened a slander lawsuit, I also had three witnesses lined up to testify. The lawsuit was nipped in the bud and I am still here seven years later. Sometimes I regret not following through because there was retaliation in such a manner that I couldn’t prove retaliation and didn’t get a promotion that I deserved. At least I kept my job and can choose my own retirement date. Voted you up++

    • blueheron profile image

      Sharon Vile 2 years ago from Odessa, MO

      Pawpaw, I suspect that you actually did figure out how he got the job, but would rather not say! Late in life, I learned the value of being in the gossip loop. This is how you find out who is related to whom, who is having an affair with whom, who was jilted by whom, who is pulling the strings from behind the scenes--that is, the actual reasons for everything.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 2 years ago from Canada

      Although ironic I got the last laugh when a company did this to me. I was an employee who worked my way up to manager but when I realized that my bonus program kept changing every time I reached a level where I should be paid out I began to complain about the unfairness of the program. (It seemed designed to insure that if I got a bonus one year that I would not the next). Needless to say life got pretty darn miserable after that. I eventually did leave and the next 4 years saw a succession of 10 managers come and go with some being fired and some quitting (hah!) The store was then sold so I guess I did get some sort of silent revenge for the way that I was treated by proving that I was well worth my pay.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      This is good insight from a former HR insider, and worthy of sharing again.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Pawpawwrites - If you have the stomach for it, you can try to outlast them. With three decades invested in a company, it was certainly worth it. I'm sorry that happened to you and glad it turned out like it did.

    • Pawpawwrites profile image

      Jim 2 years ago from Kansas

      Great information. I was in that situation once, in a 3 decade long career. I persevered though, and he ended up leaving long before I did.

      A bad manager can cost a company some good employees. I never could figure out how some of them got the job.

      I guess sometimes, people will rise to their level of incompetence.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Cesky - Forewarned can be forearmed. Thank you for stopping by!

    • Cesky profile image

      Cecilia Karanja 2 years ago from Nairobi

      This hub was such an eye opener. Most of these tactics torture employees psychologically and it is good to learn to read the signs early and be on your way.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      GarnetBird - Looks like someone stepped over a line in dealing with you. I'm sorry for what you went through.

    • GarnetBird profile image

      Gloria Siess 2 years ago from Northern California

      Good solid Hub with an unusual topic. I have encountered this--I had an unsupportive principle when I was teaching..he harassed me, and also actually threatened to blackmail me, and got away with it. To quote: "I'll never recommend you to another campus, and you'll never teach again." He humiliated me by mentioning I was out on disability for 2 weeks, in front of other teachers at a staff meeting--etc.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Pocono foothills - Something smells there. I'm sorry about what happened to you. I hope you were able to file for unemployment or get other work soon. Thank you for voting and sharing your experience.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Pamela - Yeah, poor piggy. Thanks for reading and sharing!

    • pocono foothills profile image

      John Fisher 2 years ago from Easton, Pennsylvania

      Nice article. Voted up. This is why everybody should have a plan B, because there is no such thing as job security. I was working for a well-known retail chain a year ago on a part-time basis (9 hours a week). They started cutting me back to 6 hours per week, then 3 hours per week. On Black Friday, I had the highest sales in my department (even beat out all the full-timers). The following Monday, I was called in to the office and terminated for "poor performance."

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Kinnaird W 2 years ago from Maui and Arizona

      I enjoyed your hub (except for the pig's head.) You are one very knowledgeable lady. Voting way up and sharing.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Silva - Yes, very sneaky and I've seen that sometimes the sneakiness gets them too from higher ups who are even sneakier. Wolves. Thanks for reading!

    • Silva Hayes profile image

      Silva Hayes 2 years ago from Spicewood, Texas

      So insightful! Informative and helpful advice for any employee in this situation. Management can be v-e-r-y sneaky . . . Voted Up and Useful.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Anna - Thank you for the kind comment. A bad manager can ruin the whole job environment. Sometimes you can out-wait them but oftentimes they are just that bad.

    • Anna Haven profile image

      Anna Haven 2 years ago from Scotland

      Another great hub. You always manage to mix information, experience and humour all into a very approachable read.

      Bad managers are plentiful and unfortunately everyone suffers for their shortcomings.

      Anna :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Rehan Ahmad - I think you're right. Have a good week. Thank you for reading.

    • Rehan Ahmad profile image

      Rehan Ahmad 2 years ago from United States

      I worked as freelancer most of my career and i tried the regular payroll for few years but then finally came out and trying for the freelance again. Status savvy and willingness to have credit without work makes the office a nasty place.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Rosetta Slone - I'm sad to say that as an investigator I have heard your story. I'm sorry for what you have been through. Thank you for sharing your experience. Stay strong and grow from what you've been through. There are better situations out there.

    • Rosetta Slone profile image

      Rosetta Slone 2 years ago from Under a coconut tree

      Oh my, this article is so thorough and so so true. I have recently (1 month ago) come out of the exact pattern you've described. In my case, the manager was making my life unbearable through constant criticism and making me seem crazy. If I told her she'd given me the ok for a certain project, she'd say that never happened and I'm always misinterpreting her words. She'd also turned my colleagues against me by telling them I'd made complaints about them behind their backs. A complete lie. I made the decision to quit, and am now unemployed and without salary. I'm sure if it happens again in the future I'll be informed and mentally stronger to hang on long enough to find an exit solution.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Relationshipc - Sounds like you got something out of the experience! Thank you for reading and sharing your experience.

    • Relationshipc profile image

      Kari 2 years ago from Alberta, Canada

      Been there, done that. Been the employee that the manager was trying to get out, I mean.

      For whatever reason, I was singled out among the young, rebellious group I hung out with at work. I was moved to the opposite shift of my friends. I was given the cold shoulder from certain people in management roles. And, I was denied promotions.

      It was hard at times. I felt like the whole place was against me.

      I now know it just wasn't my calling, and even though the managers wanted me out, I would never have stayed there anywase. The universe just made sure that I didn't get to comfortable!

      Eventually I left the job, but thankfully not before I met my husband there!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Heidi - Excellent advice! People should hear that about if you had stayed where you were you wouldn't be where you are now. That's great to hear.

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      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Unfortunately, I can say "been there, done that" as an unwanted employee. Today, with my older wiser self, I would likely have handled the situation so very differently. But if I would have stayed where I was, I wouldn't be where I am now. So I don't feel too bad.

      Always love your insight and sense of humor! Voted up for sure!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      hlwar - Thank you for weighing in! It would be much more humane to just go ahead and fire the person and get it over with. It's a stressful thing to watch even if you're not the person having all that done to you.

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      hlwar 2 years ago

      Excellent article! I have personally witnessed a previous manager consistently do this to employees not working as hard as the rest of us. Or simply not doing the most basic of requirements. I think it's necessary, but sometimes the manager would abuse her power and do these things to people she just didn't like. =/

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Cherylann - Thank you for the kind compliment. I have personally seen this used and as a former HR representative, I've heard the pattern described in detail. I hope you don't have to use this information yourself, but if you do I hope it's helpful to know what you're dealing with. Have a great week.

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      Cherylann Mollan 2 years ago from India

      Brilliant, brilliant article! These are like pearls of wisdom for all those work in the corporate space, or any working space for that matter! I once had a manager who did this, a lot. Somehow, she would always play her cards such that the team member became the bad guy and she looked up at as the practical, patient manager who was forced to take the final step! I like the suggestions you've provided here. Never know when i'll have to start using them. :P

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      JPW - Absolutely. If that is the case I hope they file for unemployment if they're not able to find appropriate work. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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      Jeff W 2 years ago from Bergen County NJ

      One tactic I've seen used in an hourly work environment is cutting an employees hours to the bare minimum, this usually gets people out the door quickly because why stay if you aren't making any money anyway.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Peg - Ouch. Sharing his ex-wife's name. It is certainly hard to see the signs when it's going on. I hope you are free and clear and have put the whole mess behind you. And I hope he gets what is coming to him. Just sayin'.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Susan - You're right about being the cowardly way out! And many thanks on the kind compliments!

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      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      This is so familiar and disturbing to realize exactly what was going on. At the time, I just didn't see it. My boss made it clear that we were not chums, no small talk, all work and no play while engaging my coworkers in happy talk and reverie about their weekend or vacations. Turns out my name was the same as his ex wife's. I think that was the straw.

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      Susan Hambidge 2 years ago from Hertfordshire, England

      I have witnessed others being managed out but it is a cowardly thing to do in my opinion. If someone isn't pulling their weight they need to be told and given the opportunity to improve, and if they don't then they need to be fired properly. Bur anyway - I love the way you write and illustrate Flourish!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Conservative Lady - It sounds like you aim to be a responsible boss who doesn't put up with slackers and other mischief. Thanks for stopping by!

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      Sheila 2 years ago from Surprise Arizona - formerly resided in Washington State

      I manage a group of 48 staff and sometimes you do have to manage folks out. It is not something I enjoy doing but if an employee is not carrying their fair share of the work that means everyone else is overloaded. I strive to keep my good hard working and intelligent staff happy and having a slacker for a coworker does not make for a happy time. Great Hub, I enjoyed reading it and found some useful nuggets here. Voted Up

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Nell - Thanks for reading. I'm sure your friend is stressed to high heaven.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Nadine - You are so fortunate working for yourself, although with self-employment one certainly bears significant risks oneself that usually corporations attempt to shoulder for employees (not out of kindness but practicality). Although I'm sure it was traumatic to discharge that dishonest and disloyal employee, he or she truly had it coming, having stolen from you and betrayed you. It hurts doubly much when you're a small business owner, I imagine.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      RandallJonas - Unfortunately, not everyone has the option of quitting. Some people must tough it out while they look for other work, if it's available at all. And that may not even be practical. Certainly one's health can be adversely affected, and I empathize. I wish you the best personally and professionally. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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      Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

      This is totally appropriate reading at the moment! My friend and next door neighbor is going through this hell of bossy boss, trying to 'remove' her so she can step into the gap so to speak! long story, but trust me after 30 years in an office I know just what you mean! lol! great work flourish, nell

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      Nadine May 2 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Its always interesting to read about topics that I know little about, but reading it this way it is then easy to imagined what it must be like, working under a boss. I married very young ( 19) and always worked for myself. I was the boss in a small way. I only once had to let someone go, due to proven theft, but that in itself was more traumatic for me, since I trusted this person. Thanks for sharing. Interesting!

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      Randall Jonas 2 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for this article. It is useful to anyone dealing with superiors. I have had experiences where my health was adversely effected. Quitting is good. But not everyone can do this. Insightful

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Linda - I'm glad you found this of interest. I hope it helps the audience it was intended for. Have a great day.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      ChitrangadaSharan - I agree that a bad boss can definitely ruin one's life, as more than one-third of the day is spent in the workplace. Plus there is all the time thinking about it, traveling to and from work, etc. Life is too short to put up with shenanigans if you have a choice to do something else. Thank you for the kind compliments and for reading and voting.

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      Chitrangada Sharan 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Wonderful hub and very useful and informative!

      A bad boss can ruin one's life. It is very difficult to work with a stressful mind and constant criticism and no appreciation. It is better to quit in such a situation, as peace of mind is very important.

      You have dealt with the topic brilliantly and in detail. Thanks and voted up. Sharing on HP!

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      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is another very useful hub, Flourish. Thanks for sharing your experience and all the helpful tips.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Vellur - Hopefully it will help employees identify when their managers are dealing with them in passive aggressive ways. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment!

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      Nithya Venkat 2 years ago from Dubai

      Great hub, you have clearly explained what all managers can do get rid of an employee, it can get very difficult for the employee to survive in such a situation. Great tips too, voted up interesting and informative.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Bill - Sadly, the experience is all too common. Managers also do not realize that observers experience what academics call "third party reactions" -- just witnessing another person being unfairly treated can be stressful. In the cubicle environment, it's almost hard not to witness it. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great week.

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      Bill De Giulio 2 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi Flourish. This hasn't happened to me but I see this happening to an associate of mine at work. Many of the things on your list get thrown his way. It is very obivous to me as I sit very close to him and see and hear it happening. Thankfully I work for a different manager as this really puts a lot of stress on the employee. Great job.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      shanmarie - It is a sad statement, isn't it? Thanks for your comment. Have a great week!

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      Shannon 2 years ago from Texas

      Rather sad to me that managers actually resort to such passive aggressive behavior when they are supposed to take charge. By the way, love the map points. A humorous touch.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Devika - Thank you for stopping by and for the kind comment.

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      Devika Primić 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Helpful ways listed here and your hubs are always interesting and with unique thought.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Frank - Aww thanks, my friend. I appreciate you. Once an HR lady, always one.

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

      Flourish stay away from Human Resources Department LOL.. Clever idea for a hub how do you come up with it... Gotta print it and leave it so my co-conspirators I mean employees could read it bless you :)

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      grand old lady - Beautifully said. Thank you for stopping by!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      MsDora - I agree, especially when you consider the month or years of stress. Thanks for reading and voting. Have a great week.

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 2 years ago from Philippines

      This is so on target. I've seen this happen in a lot of offices which is why I choose to work independently on my own. I've been told there are artists, there are corporate people (who do well in a company setting) and there are businessmen (who do best when they run their own business). If you aren't a corporate person, you should find the place where you will bloom.

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      Dora Isaac Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      Real sneaky pressure by management. I'd prefer to save on the stress and fire or get fired the minute the decision is made. Some of us employees might recall being pressured to leave with some of these tactics. Those still in the workforce have great information to work with. Thanks and voted up!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Sha - I wish I could say your experience was unusual. Sadly, it is not. Thank you for reading and adding your perspective. Have a great week!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Susan - Thanks for your kind words and for voting, sharing. I've investigated so many cases and the pattern was always pretty cookie cutter. There's no reason a sneaky smart manager should get the best of someone without putting up some good resistance. Have a good week!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Buddhaanalysis - Indeed.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Suzanne - The sneaky ones are everywhere. I have experienced eye-bleeding micromanagement and heard so many complaints about it as well -- for example, lengthy discussions about the size and color of font in a non-creative job. At some very early point, it becomes about something much more than the minor issue at hand, and you really have to wonder about the person's comfort level and competence in their role. Don't let the boogers get you down.

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      Shauna L Bowling 2 years ago from Central Florida

      Flourish, this happens all too often. Employees will be forced to quit when the atmosphere becomes too thick. This way the employer doesn't have to pay unemployment compensation for the disgruntled employee. That's usually the underlying reason from my experience.

    • profile image

      buddhaanalysis 2 years ago

      Very Serious!!

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      Susan W 2 years ago from The British Isles, Europe

      This hub is very useful, for millions in the corporate world. Managers are always using these passive aggressive tactics to do things they cannot do without being professional. It's a pity that the world has so many of these "sneaky" managers, and are impossible to put up with. I guess the only way for an employee to feel useful is to leave a job with this kind of manager. Thanks for the pointers and at least, this will show employees what their managers are really up to when they start giving them huge workloads. Voted useful and shared!

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      Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      A very comprehensive hub! I've found this to be apparent in the creative industry, where if you can't do a YouTube video for the company for $5, then life gets made very hard for you. Ditto if you work for a company that doesn't believe in using stock photography and doesn't have any photographic library and expects brilliance. Once they don't get their unreasonable demand, they like to micromanage you to bits until you leave. Voted useful and up!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Valeant - Thanks for your comment.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Caren - I'd explore whether their behavior amounts to harassment based on age. In your circumstance, I would put my happy face on and not go anywhere until I was either good and ready or they were paying severance. No way, no how. Take care of yourself.

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      JOC 2 years ago from Syracuse, NY

      I could write this hub in two words - pink slip.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Faith Reaper - I certainly hope this helps the right people. Have a lovely weekend too, good lady.

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      Caren White 2 years ago from Franklin Park, NJ

      This hub describes my boss to a tee. Just add the fact that he encourages my fellow employees to harass, mock and belittle me and you will have described my work life for the past four years. Yes, they are trying very hard to drive me out but at my age, finding another job is impossible so I have to endure the unendurable. Great hub. Voted up.

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      Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

      Interesting hub on those sneaky managers, who for the most part that I have found, are insecure in their own competency and do not take kindly to those employees who may be smarter than they are, and they know it. If that is the case, I have seen those sneaky managers wind up in their very own predicament and thus respecting those employees to make them look smarter than they are in realty.

      Good advice if you are in the scenario you have pointed out here.

      Have a great rest of the weekend.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Raul - None of us is a perfect employee. Unfortunately, weak managers tend to either ignore problems until they get out of hand or "overcorrect." It's always good to review one's own responsibility in a situation no matter who you are. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Bill - At least you take responsibility for your actions and you learned from the experience. Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - My hope is that if people can recognize what is happening they can take proper action. Thanks for reading and commenting. No one should have to be miserable at work.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Carrie Lee Night - Thanks for reading and for the kind comment. Enjoy your weekend!

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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Christin S - I'm sorry you experienced that. Just think, his wife and kids probably had no idea what a terrible person he is. Managers do circle the wagons when there is trouble. You're right about that. I hope one day he will get what's coming to him, double. Thanks for sharing your story and for the vote. Have a good weekend.

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      Raul Sierra Jr 2 years ago from El Paso, Texas

      Well said. I really enjoyed the points made in each caption that accompanied the pictures.

      You touched on it a little, and I think, as an employee, it's important to look in the mirror. Sometimes our own attitude or work ethic puts the weak manager in a position he or she is not prepared to deal with.

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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I only experienced it once and it was definitely my fault...and I learned from it. I'm not fond of the passive-aggressive form of management, but in my case, that one time, it was effective and I got the message. :)

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Flourish, more excellent advice on navigating the workplace battlefield, if the atmosphere sours. You've listed a lot of ways to drive an employee out that many of us would never have thought of, and you gave great pointers on when and how to leave, preferably after you already have another job lined up.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Kept private 2 years ago from Northeast United States

      Awesome hub :). I've seen these techniques before....fortunally not by management. Thank you for your insight. This hub was organized very well :). Keep them coming :)

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 2 years ago from Midwest

      Excellent hub, very interesting and highly detailed. I have been the target of a passive aggressive boss in the past who used a lot of these tactics to force me out. It worked, unfortunately because I wasn't willing to tolerate it anymore and I did walk away. In a way though I am thankful for that experience and all it taught me. It also helped motivate me to never, ever work for a corporation ever again lol.

      In my case, this was a male boss who used to hit on all the females and when I reported him, not only did he not get fired, he started targeting me. I was so angered by how the mostly male upper management circled the wagons. They did a lot of the cruel things on this list to force me out and other women who didn't want to be targeted refused to speak out about the sexual harassment or also just quit. Sad really because a lot of these behaviors are very prevalent and it seems the managers are so rarely held accountable for the way they treat people.

      This was almost 20 years ago. Today, I work independently as a contractor/freelancer - much better! :) Enjoyed the hub - voted up and sharing. Others should definitely read this.

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