Is it fair to say "we've all been fired from somewhere at least once?" I think so! While in high school, I was fired from the clothing store Express because I wiggled out of a shift to go to an Ice Cube concert. (Shoutout to Northland Mall in Detroit...ok Southfield!)
So what if you're now a fully functioning adult and your manager is trying to manage you OUT the door? Or you're about to be put on the dreaded Performance Improvement Plan (PIP)? Having worked on the HR side of these issues for years, I recognize that most employees feel like there is nothing they can do. But in reality, there are some specific and smart steps you can take to mitigate, but you've got to be honest with yourself first. I pose a lot of questions to help you think about it.
1) Get feedback from your manager in writing.
Don't just let your manager "say" how you are not performing or ghost quote what others have said. Get specifics. Get numbers and metrics. How are you not meeting the goal or deadline? Do you have evidence to the contrary? Be sure to share that. Get your manager to outline in writing what the expectations are specifically. And use email not text! Don't verbally agree to what was said 3 weeks ago. Someone will forget and you'll pay the consequences for it.
2) Have a personal board of directors.
Who's in your corner? Who knows your work? If you feel your boss is trying to manage you out, who can support you during the process? Who can help you navigate with HR or Legal or your bosses' boss? This is where mentors come in handy. Don't just try to attempt to manage this on your own or over coffee chats with sympathizer friends in the breakroom. Get knowledgeable about what your options are from those in the know.
3) Are you really not performing?
Be honest with yourself about why they are trying to manage you out. Are you disengaged from the work? Is this not the work you really want to be doing? Are you in the wrong role? It's really obvious to your boss - and others on the team or around you - when you aren't engaged, aren't attending meetings, or missing deadlines. Are you fighting for a promotion? Be mindful of what you can and can't control. Don't be so married to the paycheck that you think there is nothing else out there for you. You must take the steps to either find the work you love in the place you're in or step out and find a role that's a better fit for you. Save everyone meeting time, time spent documenting, and the pain of being actually fired, and simply make changes you can actually control.
Being on a PIP or being managed out, isn't the end of your career. It doesn't define who you are. It doesn't make you a "bad" person. Take steps to honestly assess your role and actions and get honest about what you can and can't control in the workplace. Spend more time fighting for yourself to be in a better space overall vs fighting with the company. These suggestions may not fit every scenario that's out there, but they're a good first step towards getting to a career you love!