What My Experience With Quiet Firing Taught Me
Workin' Girl

What My Experience With Quiet Firing Taught Me

After college, I successfully landed an entertainment news role. I was passionate about my work and grateful for obtaining a job in my desired field. But like most entry-level positions in the creative industry, the pay was left to be desired. I quickly realized that I needed a second job to pay my bills.

Multiple career fairs later, I started a position with an insurance company.

My new role felt like my first “big girl” job because it had full benefits, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Plus, I could work this job during the day and my other gig at night. I excelled in my new role – exceeded the required enterprise accuracy score, received several cash awards, and was consistently selected to train my team members on different learning variances.

Everything was great initially, but unfortunately, the job that guaranteed financial stability became a nightmare after a while.

The first red flag was that this insurance company had an extremely high turnover rate primarily due to the relentless workload; therefore, teams were forced to consolidate and change leadership constantly. I was quickly burning out but overlooked the deteriorating company culture because it allowed me to keep my journalism gig and offered endless overtime. Also, the manager I had at the time was great – he provided opportunities for growth and mentorship.

It wasn’t until I reached my fourth manager that I had my first experience with a hostile work environment.

After several months on her team, my manager started the process of “quietly firing” me despite excelling on the team.

Team Building refers to quiet firing as a “passive-aggressive approach to performance management.” Supervisors will create unpleasant work conditions, which can cause an employee to suffer mentally, emotionally, and sometimes physically.

Whether unintentional – because leaders can unintentionally be neglectful – or intentional, quiet firing creates a toxic work environment.

She stopped providing feedback, blocked promotional opportunities, and eventually denied my yearly raise. I felt hopeless. I couldn’t properly do my role some days because my manager spent most of her office hours avoiding her team. All issues on the team were ignored, and any work-related questions went unanswered.

Whenever I walked into the office, it felt like a dark cloud was cast over me because most of my day would consist of doing others’ jobs or explaining to other managers why I was reaching out to them instead of my own. It wasn’t until I worked myself nearly to death that I realized this job wasn’t worth it.

My health declined rapidly. I started to experience excruciating body aches and fatigue, and my hair was falling out. Clocking into a job where I was just a number, and work still had to be completed despite my failing health was exhausting. I ignored constant pleas from friends and family members to get help out of fear of being unable to pay my bills.

The last time I was admitted to the hospital, my manager called me, and instead of asking how I was, she asked when I was returning to work. The team’s numbers decreased drastically, and upper management wasn’t happy. My manager couldn't care less if I was okay as long as I made her look good. I’m not sure why it seemed like a shocking revelation at the time, but it did. The next time I went into the office, I resigned.

After a few years of forcing a working relationship that wasn’t meant to be, I finally left.

And in all my years of working, that job was the only one I ever walked away from. Although the toxic environment influenced my decision, something about quitting made me feel like a failure. Truthfully, I felt guilty for quitting at first. I believed it was irresponsible to quit without a backup plan. However, I later learned that my manager's hostile tactics, which I loathed, ended up being a blessing.

The entire experience made me realize that God had repeatedly shown me to leave that toxic job, but I was too afraid. It wasn’t until He made me sit still that I learned that this door was meant to close. Strangely, I’m happy my manager acted the way she did because I would’ve never had the courage to leave since that job equaled stability; I was complacent because I could pay my bills.

And that’s the life of so many currently – staying in an uncomfortable position because it offers stability.

That job also taught me the importance of pivoting. It doesn’t matter what your plan or backup plan is; you must be able to pivot at any time – be flexible and adaptable. The last lesson it taught me was never to settle for a job regardless of pay. I am no longer afraid to turn down a job if it’s not a good fit.

My physical and mental health is far more important than a job that can easily replace me at any moment.

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Feature image by FG Trade/ Getty Images

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