17 Evident Signs You Are Being Set Up To Fail

17 Evident Signs You Are Being Set Up To Fail
Photo by StartupStockPhotos

If you’ve been employed at a company for some time and have a positive relationship with your boss, you likely feel secure in your job. However, if your boss suddenly takes away responsibilities and excludes you from meetings, it could indicate that you are being set up to fail, despite your gut telling you otherwise.

Throughout life, you’ll encounter manipulators who try to make you fail. Detecting their behavior and avoiding negative impact is crucial but challenging. If you suspect someone is manipulating you, notice sure signs to confirm your suspicion and protect yourself from being led astray.

Here are some of them:

Change in Relationship

1. They Make You Feel Uncomfortable.

Trust your gut instincts. If you feel uneasy around someone, reevaluating the relationship is a strong indication. Observe how you feel in their presence. Are you relaxed, stressed, happy, or resentful? Don’t ignore your feelings. Listen to your inner voice, as it often senses things your conscious mind misses. This is similar to getting a “vibe” from someone, and we’ve all experienced being correct about our instincts before.

2. They Avoid You Unless They Need Something From You.

If your boss consistently avoids you, it may indicate a setup for failure, despite occasional busyness. They’re trying to detach themselves from you if this becomes a pattern. They may be doing this because they know what’s coming and don’t want to be linked to the outcome if you quit or a dispute arises.

3. They Only Appear When It Suits Them.

A manipulator won’t care about the positive aspects of your life and won’t make an effort to be present for events that only benefit you. They’ll only appear when it’s convenient for them and serves their interests, potentially leading you astray. Their actions towards you may feel like they come with conditions or a hidden motive, which is not a healthy relationship.

4. They Ignore You.

This is another common sign that you are being set up to fail. If your coworkers usually collaborate well, but suddenly you feel ignored, it may mean that your team is aware you’re leaving. Observe your interactions with your boss and how much time they spend communicating with you. While occasional busyness is normal, repeated avoidance is a red flag.

5. They Stop Providing Adequate Support.

Insufficient support from your boss is a common sign of being set up for failure at work. This can manifest as micromanagement, lack of autonomy, inadequate resources, or limited opportunities for growth and challenging assignments. If you suspect this is happening, promptly address your concerns with your boss.

Sabotaging Your Work

6. They Make You Waste Time On Irrelevant Tasks.

Being assigned tasks that are irrelevant or overly demanding by your boss may indicate that you are bound to be kicked out. Keeping track of all your actions or being given complex tasks may be a tactic for your boss to document your mistakes or cause you to fail. To prevent failure, communicate with your boss to understand expectations and clear any misunderstandings.

7. They Hinder Your Communication With Other Employees.

Being prevented from communicating with coworkers may indicate your boss’s lack of trust and confidence in your ability. This can be discouraging, especially if those who perform poorly are given more support and chances to improve. Express your concerns to your boss and make them aware of how their actions affect you. They may not be aware and willing to make changes. If they do not listen, consider finding another job.

8. They Give You Unrealistic Deadlines.

You are being set up to fail if your boss gives you unrealistic deadlines and an excessive workload. The pressure and tight deadlines can cause stress and anxiety, impacting your work performance. You must converse with your boss and express your concerns in this situation. However, if they ignore your feelings and place the blame on you, it’s a sign they don’t care about your success or well-being on the job.

9. They Give You ‘Special’ Projects.

Working on challenging or extra projects may seem exciting, but it can also put your job security at risk. If you are frequently assigned projects that do not yield the same results as your regular duties, your standing within the company can become uncertain. Your boss is aware of these projects’ negative impact on your reputation when they go wrong, but they may not be aware of the harm they are causing to your image.

17 Evident Signs You Are Being Set Up To Fail
Photo by Claudio_Scott

10. They Suddenly Change Your Job Duties.

A sudden shift in job duties without explanation can indicate that your boss is trying to set you up for failure. For instance, they might assign tasks that are beyond your abilities or give you an excessive amount of work. This can cause feelings of frustration and overwhelm.

11. They Exclude You From Meetings.

If you’re left out of key meetings or discussions, it could indicate that your boss does not want you involved. This could mean they do not value your contributions or insights on projects and future assignments. This exclusion can also show that your boss doesn’t trust you to be part of these important conversations.

12. They Downplay Your Achievements.

Your boss may be hindering your success if they don’t give you credit for your achievements and deprive you of recognition for your hard work. This could indicate that they don’t want you to advance within the company in the future. Not allowing employees to feel valued and appreciated through recognition can negatively impact motivation and productivity.

13. They Shift The Blame On You.

Shifting blame is a red flag of being set up to fail at work. A good manager should support and guide you, but if they constantly blame you for things going wrong, it could indicate that they are trying to deflect responsibility for your poor performance onto you. Suppose your boss repeatedly blames you for missing deadlines, especially when you have previously raised concerns. In that case, it shows that they are not interested in helping you succeed but instead setting you up for failure.


14. They Suddenly Micromanage You.

If your boss constantly monitors your work, it could indicate that they don’t trust you to complete tasks independently. This type of micromanagement can make you feel insecure and lack confidence in your abilities. To determine if you’re being micromanaged, consider if the frequency of check-ins has increased and if your boss’s questions are general or focused on minor details.

15. They Begin Expressing Their Dissatisfaction With Your Performance.

If your manager hints at being unsatisfied with your performance without being specific, it could mean they view you as a weak performer. Pay attention to these hints and work to improve the situation before it worsens. Signs of dissatisfaction can come in the form of criticism, snide comments, meetings, emails, memos, or other forms of communication.

16. They Suddenly Act Better Than You.

If your boss starts to act superior to you, it may indicate that they don’t see you as an equal or value your contributions. This could be dismissive or condescending behavior, talking down to you, or taking credit for your work. This behavior can damage your confidence and make it difficult for you to do your job effectively. If you notice this, you must address it with your boss or HR representative to resolve the issue.

17 Evident Signs You Are Being Set Up To Fail
Photo by uslikajme

17. They Demote You.

When it becomes evident that an employee is not meeting job expectations, action must be taken. This could be due to a hiring or promotion mistake or difficulty handling the job demands. In some cases, termination may be necessary. Some employers may diminish the employee’s role during the termination process by taking away responsibilities, authority, or tasks. This reduction in job duties indicates that the employer sees a problem and is taking action to address it.


If you experience being set up to fail in your job, you are in good company, as this is a common experience for many. However, recognizing the warning signs can allow you to take steps to counteract the situation. Look out for the signs discussed in this article; if you spot any, take action. Share in the comments section how you plan to prevent being set up for failure in your work.

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Cyril Abello
Joan is a freelance blogger who loves writing about personal development. She also loves learning and teaching languages. A Communication Arts graduate, she now pursues a masters degree in Language Teaching. She is into mobile photography, writing poems, and reading for leisure.
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