I didn’t say this was going to be a happy post. But sometimes looking at the darker sides of a career, we can learn how to improve it. Avoid the potholes in the future. And perhaps build a more stable career and life platform.
And for the purpose of this post, “fired” is used as a general term. It includes being laid off, let go, terminated, separated or any other jargon used by a company to indicate the end of a working relationship.
So here are 10 ways:
1. Doing something stupid – It’s true that smart people do stupid things. The “less than smart” do them too. It could involve alcohol, a work affair, a fight, using work equipment to host inappropriate pictures or sending a scathing email as a reply to all suicide note. I’ve seen all these. Dumb things occur on the job and in job interviews.
2. Questioning authority – Some of us simply don’t like taking direction. We have our own ideas about how things should get done. Or we have a desire to see our own ideas warming in the morning sun. So we question authority until it’s our turn. Something that drove Pete Cashmore, the founder of Mashable. Of course most bosses don’t want this characteristic in most roles. So you won’t last long. And, in the end, that might be a good thing.
3. Hating their job – With all the focus on doing what you love, it’s not surprising that our everyday job might start to feel slow, dull and omnipresent. And with this economy, many people are staying in jobs longer than they should. Or they aren’t being as well appreciated with so many people clamoring for jobs. So they show their distaste through a lack of effort or poor quality work. Or a really high score on Angry Birds. And the “lack of” gets noticed.
4. Hating their boss – In a tough economy, there’s a lot of pressure on bosses to deliver. And with fewer staff slots in the budget, that becomes increasingly difficult. Combine that with the general lack of good personnel managers in some companies, and you get an environment that facilitates frustration. Of course, there are good bosses who are hated for other reasons. Like asking people to do work (as they should) in a job they don’t love (see 3. above).
5. Having a bad attitude – This one’s a deal breaker across so many parts of life. Having a positive attitude in life draws people closer to you. Staying positive during job search is crucial too. So if you have a bad attitude and allow others to see it (or worse draw others into your negative world), don’t be surprised to be called out for it. And, over time, to be fired for it.
6. Not doing the job – Of course this one sounds most obvious. But there are some real subtleties here. Because it is not always clear what the job is that needs to get done. And some bosses don’t figure out your transgression right away. So it takes months of meetings for them to make a decision. But you have to figure out what your boss needs from you. And what will make them smile each week during your status meeting.
7. Following the work down – You were hired to do x. If you consistently do x-1 or x-3, there will be a problem. What does it mean to follow the work down? It means you are more inclined or more comfortable doing the detail work instead of the strategic work that really needs to get done. You are especially at risk if you don’t have any direct reports and aren’t good or able to delegate the small stuff. This is one of the most difficult firings to accept. Because you were working really hard.
8. No longer relevant – How do you stay relevant? And what is the impact if you don’t keep your skills fresh and interesting? When budgets get tight or when bosses go looking to deliver on spending cuts, the first question is “who can we run this business without?”. It could be that you are doing a job that can be replaced by someone younger or a piece of software. Don’t let that happen to you. At least be aware that it’s possible and have a plan B.
9. Natural ebb and flow – Sometimes the answer is not clear. A firing is just the result of normal business. Which can include an acquisition, a re-structuring or a new owner. These changes are hard to predict and often are a result of no issues on the part of the employee. These can be the most frustrating firings because they leave people questioning the “reason why” they were let go and often the company can’t offer a good explanation as to “why you”.
10. You were meant for something better – I believe this is true for a lot of people. And if you ask people who were fired about their experience and psychology, there is a slow realization that maybe it was the right result for them. Many find better jobs and build a really strong network after termination. And realize months later that the company did them a favor. Of course this is not always the case. Sometimes it is not better. But so many I’ve met, do tell a more positive story. About becoming a better person as a result of being fired. Because it forced them to think about what they really wanted. It forced a career re-shuffling.
Of course there are more than 10 reasons. There are probably hundreds of reasons if you look at all the situations that arise today. If you are in transition today or have reason to believe you might be soon, take action now to understand your firing and make peace with it, work to prevent it or prepare yourself for it.
What are the ways that most ring true for you?
Thanks CarbonNYC for the photo via Flickr
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Tags: employment | got fired | job interview | smart people | social psychology | termination of employment
Categories: Career Advice