Managers can also be bullies
In a recent conversation, one of my coachees named Michael, said the following:
For a long time, he has been observing that his direct supervisor was avoiding him. Staff meetings were canceled, there was no longer any constructive exchange and, above all, there were only routine and standard tasks for Michael. At first, he was relieved because he could finally reduce his “mountains of work”, but then Michael became uncertain. He asked himself, ‘Is this method the new normal? Why is my boss avoiding me? Have I done something wrong? Why doesn’t he tell me directly?’
The supervisor’s damaging behavior became quite obvious to Michael when a new project that would technically fall within Michael’s area of responsibility was assigned to another colleague. Michael now feels marginalized, no longer valued, and helpless. How should he handle this?
Quiet firing – what is that about?
Basically, it is a very tricky situation when you no longer feel appreciated in your job. Automatically you ask yourself:
- Why is my manager doing this? Is she/he unhappy with my performance or me?
- Or am I perhaps over-sensitive? Do I see the whole thing too dramatically?
- Am I even to blame for the situation because I’m doing my job poorly?
- What is going wrong here overall?
This phenomenon (subliminal bullying by management) is not new – there have always been hidden conflicts between management and employees that have been driven in this way. Nowadays, however, the awareness of employees and their willingness to clearly name grievances has changed. Thus – as a counterpart to Quiet Quitting (employees just doing what they are told) – the term Quiet Firing was coined. The aim of this subtle bullying is often to drive employees to resign and ultimately to circumvent an emplyee’s legal protection against wrongful dismissal.
How to deal with quiet firing
As a victim, dealing with quiet firing in a solution-oriented manner is always a challenge. You need stamina and a lot of self-protection to endure the hidden harassment, not to constantly question yourself, and to find courage for further steps. These would be, for example:
- clearly weighing up how much psychological stress you can and want to endure
- seek an open discussion with the manager in order to find out opportunities for improvement
- if this does not work, talk to the next higher level of management
- get support from the team, HR, or works council (possible goal: termination agreement?)
- document unjustified actions immediately (memory changes)
- at the same time, reorganize your professional life if your circumstances allow it.
it is in such exact situations that I hope you have someone at home, at work, or at a professional support service who you can contact and rely on. Then you could feel safe and work on your challenges.
If you know similar situations or have even experienced them, I ask you for your feedback, gladly in the box below!