The following views for being fired are my personal opinions and not a representation of company philosophy. The examples are fictional. Any similarity to real-life examples is purely coincidental. HRNasty
Fired for making promises and not delivering in an interview
Committing to a deliverable in an interview and failing to execute is never a good start on a new job. EG: HRNasty applies for a job with a company that wants to revamp its health benefits. During the interview, the company will ask about my experience and philosophy on health benefits. I should not say, “I will take care of your benefits” or “I am a benefits expert.” I should explain the following:
- Share my experience and past accomplishments with health benefits.
- Explain how I matched the benefits policy to prior companies’ maturity, size, and financial position.
- Experience matching health benefits with the company to support long-term goals.
Past performance is the best indicator of future performance when answering interview questions.
Accepted procedure for rolling out a new health benefits plan
- Evaluate the benefits plan.
- Compare the benefits plan to the current market and other companies of similar sizes, revenue, and industries.
- Poll employees and then make a pitch to the CEO and the CFO with the updated plan. I would need to explain the pro’s and con’s of the current plan and how the new plan is more beneficial for the employee population.
Once the CEO and CFO are on board, I would present the plan to the Executive Leadership. The next step is to explain the program to the managers and then the entire company. I need to do this in the first 4-6 months.
If I didn’t have anything to show for it at the end of the first six months, I lose credibility. If I have nothing to show for it after three years, I should be fired. Under no condition should I be able to state, “I will present my plan in my fifth year after we renegotiate my contract and salary.”
Remember, “past performance is the best indicator of future performance!”
Inappropriate behavior in the workplace is not only unprofessional; it is disrespectful. In a time of #MeToo, Black Lives Matter, and just common decency, lewd behavior will affect your career. The more senior the position, the more a company is should require you to act as a role model.
You might be able to get away with lesser degrees of inappropriate behavior depending on what industry. You might be given a pass early in your career if you get drunk at a holiday party. Even if the employee is a high performer, the file will be marked. The more senior your position, the less tolerance from the company and it’s employees. Execs know better and understand they only get one strike.
A mid-level manager stating something disrespectful about women, race, or culture would probably be on probation if not fired. We have seen Hollywood cancel multiple top revenue-producing TV series after an actor or producer was inappropriate. A more senior employee who boasts on tape after groping women in the crotch. . .
“And when you are a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . . They like it!”
Would receive a short investigation providing just due and an escort to the door. Evidence on tape will make this a harder nut to crack. If you want the express path to the door, don’t apologize for your behavior and explain that “This is being overblown!” And then state that the voice on the tape isn’t yours.
Hiding information from the company
If I worked in a manufacturing company and discovered our widgets put customers in danger, I have an obligation to speak up. The company’s liability is at risk, and consequently, all of our employees’ jobs are at risk. I have said it before. It’s all in the messaging. “It’s not what you say. It’s how you say it.” I need to get help from marketing for the messaging.
I am dismissive to counsel that these widgets could cause injury or death.
Career ending and very, very bad:
- Giving shareholders the belief that the problem will go away based on my gut feelings without any data to back up the claims.
- The board found out that I never asked for a briefing with our current widget team.
- Dismissing a nationwide expert working on the specific dangers of this widget for the past 50 years.
- Blaming the prior CEO for the faulty widget
- Blaming the country where this widget was manufactured. (See the next reason we usually fire folks.)
Most companies give a pass to employees early in their careers. Most employees learn quickly not to make excuses. We learn that it isn’t productive to dwell on the past mistakes of others. Prioritizing and communicating a fix in the future is a standard operating procedure. Blaming others for what has happened is childish, and no one wants to work with someone who is always blaming.
If you want to focus on fixing the problem, you don’t focus on blaming others. Time spent blaming others should be spent working on the solution.
I was involved in an incident where a critical mistake was made. The employee expected the VP to fire him. I blogged about this employee who handled the mistake in such a productive way; he was celebrated.
Not learning from mistakes
Making the same mistake twice and three times without changing behavior is a sure path to getting fired. The larger the stakes, the less forgiving your peers will be. EG: Regardless of the country or time period, if you are going to be a surgeon, you are supposed to do a few things in the operating room.
- Wash your hands
- Wear safety glass
- Wear a mask
The surgeon with the scalpel and the resident who is observing understands these protocols. The nurse in charge of anesthesiology and the patient’s family understand the procedures.
These precautions are for everyone’s’ safety for two reasons.
- Spreading infection to others
- Infecting ourselves
Honest mistake vs. intentional malice
If I am a doctor and forget my safety glasses and mask, my colleagues will kindly remind me. “Hey, you forgot your mask.” It is such an obvious miss that it couldn’t be intentional or malicious. But if I were to reply, “We don’t need safety glasses or masks,” and insist on entering the operating room without these precautions, the hospital would be sued.
If I operate without a mask, I can’t complain when infected by a contagious patient. Even the layman off the street would wonder, “WhatTF were you expecting operating in that infected environment without a mask?” I would make newspaper headlines. I should be fired.
Doctor infected after insisting on operating on a contagious patient without a mask.
The straw that breaks the camels back
The coup de grace would be for me to operate on the next patient, still infected, without a mask. Mask or no mask, I shouldn’t be operating when I am infected. Making the same mistake twice and costing people injury is irresponsible. I shouldn’t be able to land a job as a veterinarian in a third world country.
When we make a hire, we are not expecting perfection. We expect mistakes because no one is perfect. We also hope that we aren’t going to put you into a position where you are in over your head. How mistakes are handled will affect your career. The company will take notes on how you apply the learnings from these mistakes in the future.
Lack of respect
Leaders are hired to move the company towards a common goal. Crapping on your various departments will discourage and divide the company. We have a unit in our company that is our front line of defense called the Virtual Enterprise Technology Services, or V.E.T.S. This group has a thankless job that the rest of the company can take for granted and takes a special group of men and women. Corporate Values 101 says, “don’t shit on the folks who are taking on the thankless jobs”.
HR takes responsibility
At the end of the day, HR needs to take responsibility. The company needs to believe that poor behavior will not be tolerated. HR can be both the diplomat and the police. The rest of the company doesn’t need to feel helpless when heinous behavior goes unchecked. My CEO values me because, as he puts it, “I will speak up, and vote with my job.”
If I committed any one of the above acts, the CEO would have one message for me. “You’re fired!” while he or she waves a pointed finger in my face. What are the grounds for being fired at your company? Comment below.
See you at the voting booth,
nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, ridiculously good, tricky, and manipulative. The result can’t help but be admired. A phrase used to describe someone good at something. “He has a nasty forkball.”
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