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10 Reasons Why People Get Fired

    termination of employment, hartman personality profile, draw people, smart people, social psychology, job interview, got fired, employment, firing, management, lot, fired, business, stays, courses, reason, people, why, reasons 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.

Or quit on your own terms.

What are the ways that most ring true for you?

Thanks CarbonNYC for the photo via Flickr


Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
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  • http://www.computersinpersonnelhr.com Ciphr

    Publishing how they hate their job through social medias where do i put that? I have a friend who stupidly made a status about her hating her boss. Good luck with that. Great post btw.

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Hey Ciphr – Yeah, that’s a bummer.  There are better ways to express that sentiment.  And not so public.

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  • http://www.jobsboard.ie Irishrecruiter

    …or the recession strikes. Here in Ireland we got to 14.4% unemployment…

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Yes, and it can be especially painful in certain areas as you suggest. 

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  • http://twitter.com/SuccessionLead Stuart Hayes

    Hi Tim – I love your perspective and love your honesty! I have only just discovered your site on reference from one of my own readers and am grateful I did. It’s great!! Keep up the good work, Tim.

    PS – I realise I’m commenting on an old post but you are right on the money. As a CEO, I always divided my team members into 3 categories, being:

    1. Those who could only see problems (no comment as to how they impressed me!)

    2. Those who could see problems and were able to suggest options for solutions

    3. Those who could see problems, suggest options and have already
    started on the one they felt was best (he always loved these people,
    even if he didn’t agree with the option they chose!)

    Anyway, I shot a great video on this topic which I won’t plug here as my intent is not to piggy back but to contribute.

    Thank you once again!

    Kind regards
    Stuart Hayes

    • http://timsstrategy.com/ TimsStrategy

      Thank you Stuart. Appreciate that feedback, of course! Love your breakdown of the three categories – a good short read/reminder for current employees. Can you send me a link to your video via email (tim@timsstrategy.com)? I’d like to see it….

  • Pingback: Removing The Stigma From Getting Fired | Tim's Strategy®()

  • Getajobwithtom

    Wrong Time Wrong Place…. Lots of times that I have seen people get fired its because their skill set is not right for that team at present.

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