Friday, July 11, 2014

Five ways to get fired from your job

Raise your hand if you love your job! Now raise your hand if you hate your job! Are any of you in between?

All of us can say we start our jobs with a sense of excitement and always with the best intentions, and most employees are never really gunning to get fired from a job. Whether you love it or hate it, getting fired from a job is no fun. Psychologically, it’s almost just as bad as being dumped when you thought you were in a long-term relationship with the love of your life (or at least someone you wanted to date for more than a couple months.)

I am fully aware there are really poor managers who don’t know how to manage employees, firing at will and fairly often at that. I have met them, I have worked with them, and there really and truly is no hope for them.

Still, the majority of managers loathe the days they have to terminate employees, and many will go through disciplinary processes or just take the “see no evil/hear no evil” approach and ignore bad situations for long stretches of time.

Most of the time, people who get fired are fired for common sense reasons. My HR colleagues and I even considered at one time compiling all of our “Here’s Your Sign...” employment termination moments for a book to provide comic relief in the workplace. Luckily for some of the people I have had to let go I have not done that yet.

I have, however, compiled my top five reasons for how to ensure that your career path is about to change. If you are looking to strike out, take note of the following. They are more than likely to lead to immediate termination very soon.

1. Insubordination. Not doing your job or failing to follow through on what management asks you to do. Failing to comply with policies and procedures is a sure way to make sure management will send you on your way to a new workplace and manager. If management is asking you to do something unethical or illegal, go ahead and be insubordinate (think Enron scandal). Otherwise, do what you're told.

2. Sleeping on the Job. Sleep is awesome and necessary, just not at work. Unless you are being paid as a sleep study subject, keep awake and alert. There are a few people who have sleep disorders. If you are one I hope you have at least given management a heads up so when you are caught drooling over your sales report you won’t be woken up and escorted out of the building with a paper stuck to your face.

3. Theft. From timecard fraud to stealing company supplies or petty cash, theft is costly and stealing is wrong. If you are teaching your kids not to grab a pack of gum at the store without paying for it, don’t grab a garbage bag filled with office supplies and walk out (something that actually happened with one of my clients, who tried to justify her theft by saying she needed it for camping and didn’t have time to go to the store.)

4. Dishonesty. Not telling the truth leads to distrust. Distrust leads to damaged workplace relationships. Damaged workplace relationships lead to termination. No matter what the little white lie may be, keep in mind that if you can’t be trusted to tell the truth on any level how can management trust you are doing your job right?

5. Being Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs. Maybe it has been a bad Tuesday, but that doesn’t mean it's OK to head to the bar to grab a few beers on your lunch break. Being under the influence can and will impair your ability to work. It can also create legal liabilities for your employer. Drug-free workplaces are common now, as are zero tolerance policies, so hold the drinks until after work.

You could easily add to any of the above with:

  • Inappropriate comments
  • Careless social media behavior, e.g., posting about your job and/or company
  • Sharing confidential information
  • Violence or horseplay in the workplace
  • Failing drug tests
  • Tardiness, leaving early and unexcused absences

If your goal is to be fired, I would recommend trying any of the above.

Monica Bitrick is CEO of Bitrick Consulting Group, a human resources company in Idaho Falls.