I am sidelined: how to negotiate your exit

I am sidelined: how to negotiate your exit

I am sidelined

This type of situation may occur when an organization is reshuffled and a new one is set into place following the arrival of a new MD or a merge with another entity for example.

Until now, your company has been relying on you in your particular domain but you have identified, for quite some time now, that you’ll have to make space for a new comer, or a new N+1 wants a tailored-made team, or any other reason. In short, you’re pushed aside, or downgraded by the arrival of a new immediate boss and yet, nobody asks you clearly to go and no talk is initiated on the subject.

Obviously, many other factors could come into play such as your proximity with a former boss which would make appear as the “former boss’ man’, or trust disruption etc… In any case, the process is always the same and aims to isolate you and, most often than not, to discourage you.

Your objective. Now becomes to reestablish the balance of power in your favor so that, again, you represent a matter at stake for your company to be inclined to start discussions which allow you to leave in good conditions.

At this point several pre conceived ideas may trap you even if, sometimes, they may be true:

  • If I’m useless my company will be happy to help me go.
  • There’s nothing I can do to fight this situation.
  • I’ll tell them it will be cheaper to negotiate my leaving than keep me doing nothing.
  • If I’m not happy I have to resign.


Let’s overlook the last two for the purpose of this article.

If I’m useless my company will be happy to help me go

Highly unlikely!

If your company wanted to help you go in financially acceptable conditions such as proposing a tax-free severance package or Mutually Agreed Contract Break-up (‘rupture conventionnelle’ in French), they would have done so already!

If they have not done so and if you have become “useless” over a long period of time, then it means that they have another idea in mind.

Either, they may think about another position for you internally and in this case, maybe they wait for the position to be created officially or be available. You’re then sidelined but only temporarily. We can only regret that your company was not more candid and transparent but they may have other reasons to do so which are justified, as seen from their side.

Or, your company cannot employ you to the best of your abilities but does not want to let you go to the competition because you detain sensitive information. You are then durably sidelined and your company buys, so to speak, your silence.

Lastly, your company can also sideline you to make your day-to-day life unbearable to push you to resign. In this case, they will not help you to leave to the best of your interests but only if that costs them nothing.

These are the most frequent forms of sidelining.

In all these cases, the company will not be spontaneously happy to help you go in good conditions for you so the objective will be to build some influence so that your company finds some interest to do so.

For example, you may want to point out a non-effective management organization, or a non-human management of your case, or suggest that your teams may be affected by some demotivation by seeing how you’re treated after so many years of good service, or, even, state that some major clients only want to talk to you and will be destabilized by your demotion or your loss of decision autonomy.

It is only at the end of this process that your company way reconsider her initial strategy which was to force you to quit, and turns herself towards negotiating the conditions of your departure.

There’s nothing I can do to fight this situation

On the contrary.

Except in cases where your company plans to reallocate you later on to some future mission(s), or if they just don’t want to let you go as you detain sensitive information, your company’s interest, as well as yours, is not to let this situation last.

Inherently this situation is not profitable for your company and not acceptable in time for you. Even if you consider that it gives you time to look for another job outside in which case, when you have found it, you’ll still have to create the necessary conditions to negotiate your leaving unless you want to resign and leave with nothing from a company you have given some years of work and which put you in a situation you have not chosen.

At the end of the day both your company and yourself have a great interest to get out of this configuration in order to create the new balance of power that you need to negotiate.

For example, this could be created through putting your counterpart into a risky position (for him), highlighting stumbling blocks and risk factors, or point out the ineffectiveness of the organization if you stayed stuck in a dead hole, all or any of this to invite your company to a dialog.

Obviously, it will be important to highlight those risks to the right individual carefully and in a smart and determined way. This is about helping the company to see her interest to pull you out of this sideline position or talk about a severance package.


You are not stuck in this sideline situation and it is largely possible to unplay your company’s strategy to force you to resign. Make no mistake, if it is their strategy, they are fully aware of it and do it deliberately! If they were not aware of it, it would be quite easy to change this.

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