Reopen voters: check this comment.

Recently I had some troubles with one of the bosses of my employer company, and I think he is now working on my firing. Fortunately, other bosses are sympathising with me, but I have no way to know, how do they decide.

It is Germany.

Now I got a meeting invitation to a "yearly meeting". These are held yearly for the employee. Although they are held in practice not so regularly. It is a personal meeting between the employee, the HR co-worker and one of the bosses (last is not always there).

The timing of the meeting invitation roughly passes to the time where it should be held, but it happens surprisingly coincidently after these little "troubles".

Now the HR co-worker wrote to me this in the meeting invitation:

If you have any questions, say them to me.

It is uncommon - typically, in the case of the meeting invitations, the questions should be asked on the meeting, and not before them, from one of the participiants.

On the previous meeting, only I talked with this HR co-worker. On this meeting, also one of the bosses (who seems liking me) will take part.

Actually, I have only a single question:

Will you fire me?

However, exactly this is what I can't ask. If they want to fire me, they will say it to me on the meeting, and not before.

But I would like to know the answer. What should I do?

Result: Finally I didn't react, just silently accepted the invitation. It was an ordinary meeting, as usual. The possibility of a firing wasn't even indirectly mentioned. It seems I seriously misinterpreted the power relation between the bosses. The HR worker probably suspected, that I have this fear, and I think he might tried to avoid it with this message. At the meeting I already knew, that my fears were groundless, because also many other co-workers had their yearly meeting at the time.

  • Not sure what you are asking? is hr suggesting you ask questions to them prior to the meeting or at the meeting. And you should not be facing firing at your yearly meeting assuming your employer is following best practice – Neuromancer Apr 11 '18 at 10:54
  • @Neuromancer Yes, as I wrote, the HR co-worker is suggesting to ask questions before the meeting. It is uncommon, particularly in this meeting, but also in the meetings in general. The meetings are for the questions, not induvidual 2-person talks before them. – Gray Sheep Apr 11 '18 at 11:02
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    Please do take into consideration that firing someone in Germany is not like in the US. There is not "at will" employment and a firing does not come out of the blue. My guess is that your worst case scenario is being put on probation if, indeed, you did something wrong. And the advice I always give: Don't be late in getting Rechtsschutzversicherung that covers work related issues! – viorel Apr 11 '18 at 11:51
  • @Gray Sheep: Are you still on probation? (Customary in Germany to start a job with some months of probation, with eased firing procedure) – Daniel Apr 11 '18 at 12:01
  • I´d also advise you to work on your trouble with this boss that has you on notice, as preparation of that meeting. Maybe this site or other resources can help you to A. No get emotional at work and subsequently get into a trap that gets you fired. B. Place yourself strategically so you can already show (plans for) improvements of anticipated critique. – Daniel Apr 11 '18 at 12:07

For the time being, I would propose you stay composed and attend the meeting without questions beforehand, this way you don't spread unnecessary tension or lose face by asking something that is very far from the truth.

You should be mentally prepared for all possible outcomes and be prepared ahead of the meeting(paper trail checked etc) to defend yourself and your work if need be. The fact your sympathizing boss will be the one attending is positive.

p.s. If you really can't contain yourself, you can politely and indirectly ask for the exact purpose/thematology of this meeting to the HR rep since, after all, they welcomed questions. This way you can clear it up or at least be hinted about the direction this may go.

  • Thank you very much! However, how do you think that they include me in their future plans? – Gray Sheep Apr 11 '18 at 11:41
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    @GraySheep We do not know your superiors and we do not know anything about your situation, so we are less qualified to estimate their intentions than you are. – Philipp Apr 11 '18 at 11:45
  • @GraySheep You re right, from the information you shared, there's no indication of this. I went over that part in your original question absent-mindedly, hence I corrected my answer to reflect this. All in all, I wouldnt stress about this endeavor especially if its really about lesser issues you re having with the other boss and you re prepared to explain yourself for these in a determinate fashion anyways (IF and thats a big if, this meeting is about those). – Leon Apr 11 '18 at 11:46
  • @Leon This boss thinks now that I make everything bad-working what I do. Anything what I say to him, he ignores. For example, if our serverhosting gives to us a bad service, I say it to him, the he ignores it and says that I am working badly. We are after roughly 5 similar cases, and now he simply stopped to work with me together on anything, instead employed a new co-worker, from him he thinks he could do what I "can't". – Gray Sheep Apr 11 '18 at 12:12
  • @Philipp This is why this question is about, how could I ask this from the HR worker, and not about "what do my bosses think". – Gray Sheep Apr 11 '18 at 12:14

If the company wants to fire you, it would be unusual to wait for it until some annual meeting. It would be much more likely that you do something wrong, and get fired shortly afterwards (taking notice periods into account), not during some annual meeting.

PS. If someone asks "Am I going to be fired", the other side will now assume that there must be a good reason to fire you, even if they were not aware of any such reason before you asked. So you really hurt yourself by asking that kind of question.

  • If the time period between the time of incident leading to them wanting to fire someone and the annual performance review coincide, its not a bad idea to have this talk during the review while allowing them enough time to search for the replacement and tie all loose ends in the meanwhile. – Leon Apr 11 '18 at 11:52
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    It appears like the annual meeting was set up after some event that makes OP suspect they might get fired. Also, in Germany, notice periods often are three months or longer. Getting fired quickly is only possible under very specific circumstances (and OP doesn't describe these). – Roland Apr 11 '18 at 12:01
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    You normally need a cause for firing someone in Germany. A performance review can serve as a good documentation of such cause! – Daniel Apr 11 '18 at 12:08
  • @Roland The meeting may be any time, but in practice it happens roughly yearly. I waited it in the next half year. So, the yearly meeting now is roughly in time, but it happens with surprising coincidence after these little events. – Gray Sheep Apr 11 '18 at 12:15
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    @Gray Sheep: Yes, but on such causes as continuous low work quality the employer needs to show how it was low quality and how they gave you notice and opportunity to improve. Such a meeting can serve as documentation of giving you notice and it is also common to negotiate goals to where you need to improve. – Daniel Apr 11 '18 at 12:41

If they know already they want to fire you why would they need a meeting for this. A letter would be sufficient.

But maybe they think about that maybe they want to fire you and this meeting is about evaluating you before they make a decision. So make sure you are well prepared.

  • No decent company fires through a letter. This is one of the times when a manager is morally obligated to deliver the news in person. If they don't then they are a coward. If a company lets a manager get away with this act of cowardice, then it is a bad company to work for because there will be plenty of other things that they are too cowardly to properly address. I would move on immediately If I knew a company behaved this way. – HLGEM Apr 11 '18 at 13:43

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