She Knows the Axe is About to Fall

Sarah writes:
I read your article on Quintessential Careers Getting Fired: An Opportunity for Change
and Growth. I had a question that seems right up your alley: I was informed by a coworker
that my boss told our department’s coordinator I am going to be fired. Things at work have
been tense lately but I have not been reprimanded for poor performance stating that my job
was at stake. I do work at an employer that has an “at will” policy so I know I can be
terminated at the employer’s discretion but what can I do regarding all the talk in other
departments? I believe this rumor to be true and do not want her to be aware that I know the
ax is about to fall. People in other departments are aware of my impending doom and it’s
upsetting and embarrassing.

The Career Doctor responds:
Let me begin by asking how much you trust and value this co-worker.
What was his or her motive for telling you? Before jumping to conclusions
you need to evaluate the source of the rumor.
Regardless though your question is really disturbing to me because of the
lack of any kind of professionalism from your boss — and your co-workers.
Unfortunately I also know that there are numerous office situations where
this type of behavior — or even worse — has occurred and there will be many
more in the future. In regard to your boss it really makes you wonder about
motives. . .is it just to be a complete jerk or is she trying to get you to quit
(which is a lot cleaner from the employer’s perspective).
What can you do about the situation? Not much unfortunately. I recommend
holding your head high continuing to perform your job at your highest level
and taking the high road. It won’t stop the office gossip but people will come
to respect you more and question the boss more.
And most importantly of course you should be spending a great deal of time
talking to people in your network engaging in multiple job-search techniques
and working hard to find a healthier and happier work environment.
One last thought. You could certainly professionally confront your boss — or the
supervisor of your boss — about the rumors but given my experience in these matters
don’t expect anything from doing so unless the rumors are completely false.
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