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Asking A Manager If You're About To Be Fired

· Career Success,fired

Dear People Ops,

I'm a software engineer at a large well-known tech company. One that is notorious for being a toxic environment. Six months ago my manager told me that "this isn't a problem now, but if we don't see improvement six months down the road, it will be."

Six months later I don't know where I stand and don't know how to ask my manager how close he is to firing me. I don't want to plant that seed in his mind if he wasn't already thinking about firing me. Ideally, in our weekly 1-1's he could update his "fire-o-meter" so I know exactly how close I am to losing my job. This would help because I need to know whether I should focus more energy on trying to stay afloat or on finding a new job.

First, take a deep breath. I suspect you're fine. If your manager hasn't brought up your performance in the past six months his one-time statement was off-the-cuff without much weight behind it.

Have you tried asking for direct feedback during your weekly 1-1's? Trust me, asking for feedback isn't going to plant the seed in his mind to fire you. If its there, it's already there. Try this line during your next 1-1's "Manager, I'd like to check in on my performance. I want to make sure I'm meeting, if not exceeding, your expectations". And then let your manager talk. Sometimes one simple question can open the door to a great deal of insight.

If you've already asked for feedback and your manager isn't giving you specific examples or areas that need to be improved on within a stated time frame, then he is not committed to helping you improve. Your manager should be giving you actionable items. Try prompting this feedback through an email, asking specifically what areas you need to improve. If you suspect that you'll get a vague answer, you can try the phrase "I want to confirm that I understand what I need to do to improve my overall performance" and list what you think he wants you to improve and reasonable timelines.

Finally, why are you letting your manager decide your career arc for you? The sense I get from your message is you're unhappy at your company. While juggling full-time work and job hunting can be stressful, the benefit of finding a new job that will respect you is worth it. Don't wait to find out where you stand with your manager - start looking now.

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