Tamara Lempicka 1939

How do you know you’re in trouble?

Often in our nonprofit work environments, we have to GUESS we’re in trouble rather than have people tell us we’re in trouble.

It’s pretty bad. It’s dysfunctional. And you shouldn’t be forced to guess that people are going to fire you.

However, with current “corporate” hiring practices, they will most likely not tell you until the moment of your firing that you are getting fired.

Why will your boss not tell you that you might be getting fired?

  • They are afraid that you will sabotage the nonprofit,
  • They are afraid you will fire off angry emails to funders and donors,
  • They might be afraid you’d take all of your grants folders with you and not return them. (That does happen!)

There’s a variety of things they’re afraid of, which makes them not want to tell you that you’re getting fired.

But then again, it’s an at-will employment environment in most of the US, which means they don’t have to have a reason to fire you. They can also just ask you to leave, for absolutely no reason. The power dynamic is dramatically skewed in favor of the employer. It is totally messed up. So prepare yourself.

So how can you find out, before they show you the door abruptly, that you are getting fired?

Well, here are 8 ways to find out if you’re going to be fired.

1. Your boss does not meet with you. I mean, you schedule appointments and then your boss does not keep them, does not show up, is late and then dismisses you, or they refuse to have supervisions with you. That’s a bad sign. And if you don’t have performance reviews. That’s also a bad sign.

2. Your performance review is only “average.” A lot of people are looking for work right now. Having just an “Average” performance review is their way, subtly, of telling you that you’re on thin ice.

3. You are badmouthing your boss to someone at work and your boss walks in. Or walks by. Yeah. That is probably not going to end well for you.

4. You promise to bring in more money than you know is actually possible, and then fail to raise that money. This does happen. I know, you want a job. You want it bad. You’ll promise whatever it takes so you can get that job. But when you overpromise and underdeliver, well, that could be the beginning of the end of your job at this nonprofit.

5. They pile you with way more work than you can actually do. Like telling you that you have to get a 5,000 piece mailing out, by yourself, by tomorrow.  They are trying to get you to fail, so they can fire you. Or they will create an arbitrary rule, like telling you that you can’t be more than 4 minutes late 3 times in a row, otherwise you’ll be fired.

6. You see that other people are getting fired for no reason. Like, literally, every other month, someone is fired. If you’re in a small agency, that’s kind of hard to ignore. You should start wondering if you’ll be next.

7. Your boss starts asking you for a list of your contacts, and a list of what you do all day. It could be innocent, but it probably isn’t. They are looking to replace you. These corporate bosses believe in hiring slow, firing fast, and no matter how you do it, it shakes up an office, and makes people nervous when someone is so abruptly gone.

8. Everyone stays about a year at this job, voluntarily or not. You are the 4th person in 5 years at a nonprofit or another such trend. You should be looking to ask this question in the interview before you even take the job. But if you’re part of this trend, then start looking now.

BONUS 9. You come in and you can’t access your email. That means that it’s probably goodbye time.

Getting fired sucks. I hope it is not happening to you. But if it is, well, maybe now you’re more prepared for it.

What happens after you get fired?

Well, you cry, obviously. You have a lot of anger. But then you realize it was the best thing that could have happened to you.

Why? Here is my post why getting fired is actually a good thing

Are you part of the revolving door? Here’s what’s behind the fundraising revolving door at your nonprofit.

And here’s what we can do about it.

If you want 65 more fundraising career resources, just go here.

If you want 99 more nonprofit leadership resources, click on over here.