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My Medical Device Sales Career

Lined Up To Be FIRED or Not So Sure? 7 Subtle Signs

Do you have a growing feeling at work that you are not quite part of the gang anymore; co-workers are acting a little funny to you or perhaps you are feeling a little chill in the air every time you speak to your manager?  If you are in outside sales perhaps all of a sudden your sales manager seems to be living with you or maybe it is as subtle as the manager moving up the routine field visit day from every 8 weeks to every 4 weeks (and from 2 days solid to 3 or 4 days in one week!).  You start to wonder, "Am I getting set up to be fired"? 


Maybe you are one of the lucky ones with an in-your-face manager who tells you flat out, "You better start looking".  Why lucky?  These manager are sophisticated ENOUGH to be open in communication with you (even though it is not what you wanted to hear) and give you time to start looking for a job to get out ASAP!  It can really save you from experiencing an even more stressful situation; a passive aggressive manager who wants to keep it a secret from you and pressure the hell out of you to quit!  One thing for certain, in BOTH scenarios you will be fired with one taking a little longer and feeling like someone is slowly turning a screw into your back one half turn at a time!  Yes, passive aggressive managers are the worst to you and your health! 


By the way, since I use to be a sales manager, this does not include managers who have put you on a 2 to 3 month plan of action with very clear written expectations of "reasonable" performance and deadlines for accomplishments that will lead to a clear path of keeping your job or losing your job based on the results.  I know some companies use these PIPS (Performance Improvement Plans) as a ruse and really just setting you up for the inevitable, but some do not.  That is yet another article so let's stay with our in-your-face manager or passive aggressive manager scenarios.  I will add this although, IF you are on a PIP; work your buns off to hit the plan, but keep your finger to the winds and start looking for a job as a back up!  Now back on course.


Obviously if you have an in-your-face manager, you can skip the rest of this article and immediately START LOOKING FOR A JOB NOW!  Yet, I know that even some of you who have been told this still hang on waiting for the manager to start liking you again or perhaps trying to still bring in that big sale that will make this terrible in-your-face manager change his mind.  This is the problem with that thinking; it has already been decided politically within your company that you are OUT.  If you don't know this, then you are probably the only one left who doesn't (especially within the management ranks).  I know it hurts, but that is the way it is, stop over thinking and trying to understand how they could possibly throw away a great talent like you!  It is like the man who's wife left him for another and ten years later still trying to understand why she left; therapy may help but get moving, start looking for a job (or mate) that will appreciate you!  Being appreciated is GREAT therapy!


Now for those with the passive aggressive manager where NOTHING has been said, you are just getting that feeling or frankly, refusing to see the subtle signs that all add up to the firing.




  1. Increased mini emails, phone calls and field activity from your direct report manager.  This can take the form of increased email demanding follow-up on your work tasks or documenting what you have not been doing (late call reports, expense report and etc.).  This can also result in increased field visits or one on one meetings to review your numbers if you are in sales; think of it as accumulating documentation for the big day!
  2. No field visits from your manager and possibly diminished contact.  Depending on your company culture; some want managers to badger their people into quitting, while other companies don't want them wasting their time with people who are going to be out.  They direct them to manage them by email and phone calls or to simply freeze contact to see if they will shake lose before the firing.
  3. You go to a meeting and your manager will not make direct eye contact with you, doesn't call upon you to share with the group your "wisdom" and when you do bring up meaningful information it is dismissed quickly.  In fact, what you say or how you say it may be ridiculed and others called upon to further support what can become a mean spirited session.  You are effectively dismissed and you feel terrible, you decide to remain quiet and become passive yourself!
  4. You begin to realize that your manager has invited select members of the team for lunch, dinner, drinks or a friendly game of golf; you are not included, you find out through others.
  5. Upper management says hello to you but quickly moves on or, if in a casual group standing in a circle, makes almost no eye contact with you.
  6. You are at a sales meeting with only your peers relaxing with a drink and you are now beginning to not feel like a peer, you feel they are acting a little funny or maybe acting like they feel sorry for you.  You are feeling like an outsider with your own peer group.  You see, passive aggressive managers like to buddy up and talk to their favorite reps. and share things they shouldn't.  All representatives like to talk, especially those that feel special and who have been given what should have been private information by their manager about their co-workers.  Simply gross.
  7. A recruiter or two calls you out of the blue, your manager or a friendly FORMER peer has given your name out as someone who needs a job (of course without your knowledge or permission).  By the way, it is a Human Resource Department no-no for your manager to call or give your resume out to a recruiter or any other source to get rid of you.  Funny, but it makes the manager vulnerable to charges of his possible intent of coercing you to leave! 

Now realize, I am not saying that ALL 7 or even 3 of these signs need to be present.  A really passive aggressive manager may be only sending off one sign!  Certainly you need to weigh these signs with other factors to come to a conclusion; like your work performance, how well your company is doing, if YOUR MANAGER is doing well and highly regarded in the company (after all he could be on a short leash too and he just may get fired before he can do it to you, and boy is that enjoyable when it happens that way!).


The bottom line is, if you are feeling like you are being lined up to be fired, then you probably are, so start moving away from the pain and begin to find a manager and a company that will appreciate what you have to offer! 

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved

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Tags: boss issues, career advice


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Comment by Linda Hertz on August 29, 2011 at 4:26pm

Hi Laura,

Thank you SO MUCH!  We often know people are reading our Blogs but they tend to be shy and not comment UNLESS they hate what we write (:  So thank you for the great feedback.  This piece I wrote from being on BOTH sides of the coin and from those who got nipped by the Firing Bug.


I am feeling like writing this perhaps I can pop another Blog out on a new topic!


Take care and thanks again.

Comment by Laura C Blandford on August 29, 2011 at 1:38pm



Love your articles, always find you "spot on" w/ your observations, suggestions, etc.




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