Five dumb ways people get fired

By Karen Gately

Here are the dumbest ways people get fired and how you can easily avoid them. Photo / iStock
Here are the dumbest ways people get fired and how you can easily avoid them. Photo / iStock

Getting fired is something most of us at least try to avoid. A little common sense, reasonable effort and behaviour are in most circumstances enough to keep your job.

But not everyone seems to understand where these boundaries lie; or if they do, how to stay within them.

Here are the dumbest ways people get fired and how you can easily avoid them.

1. Getting into a fight

British chef Adam Steele was fired for head butting and punching a colleague. While extraordinary behaviour in any workplace, unbelievably Steele chose a Buckingham Palace staff party as the moment to lose all control.

Tip: Deal with your frustrations before they escalate and cause you to behave badly.

Remember how you behave while "off duty" can matter has much as when you are on the job. Avoid heavy drinking with colleagues and don't allow a single moment of uncontrolled anger to ruin your career.

2. Social media rants

Racist, hateful, sexist and generally vile posts on social media have led to many dumb people getting fired.

Not quite so clear-cut are the cases of people being fired for expressing disappointments or frustrations with their employer.

In some cases dismissals have been overturned but in many others, social media rants have ended badly for all concerned.

Tip: When your blood is boiling and your fingertips are poised over the keyboard, stop! Take a few deep breaths and get some perspective before posting anything.

While it might feel great in the moment to let off steam and tell the world how aggrieved you are feeling, you might not like the consequences of your actions. Consider if there is a more productive way of dealing with the issue.

3. Just not doing your job

In the US an arguably not so dumb, but unquestionably dodgy guy, was discovered in 2013 to have hired a Shanghai consultancy to do his job for him. He paid them a fifth of his salary and reportedly went undetected for years, even managing to win employee of the month awards on numerous occasions.

Tip: If you are so bored in your job that you can't bring yourself to do it, recognise its time to leave.

While earning money for doing nothing may seem attractive, reflect on what really makes you happy in life. What gives you energy and a sense of fulfilment? For most people making a meaningful contribution is essential to thriving. Choose to work in roles and for organisations you enjoy.

4. Faking your CV

Recently Telstra sacked its chief technology officer Vish Nandlall after discovering aspects of his resume had been falsified. Not so long ago Myer terminated the services of Andrew Flanagan, appointed as general manager strategy and business development, only one day into the job when background checks didn't add up. Embellishing and downright lying on CVs has led to many people being fired from their job.

Tip: Just don't do it. Apply for roles you are qualified for and back yourself to get the job without lying.

It's ridiculous to think that no one will ever find out you have lied, so present who you are honestly. Being authentic in life is entirely more likely to enable you to thrive than cheating your way into positions you probably don't deserve.

5. Avoidance

Despite their employer's best efforts to help them, some people simply don't want to listen or take responsibility. Like the guy who in response to a final warning of the need for him to improve his performance, declared "I think we'll just need to agree to disagree".

He apparently felt that his contribution was adequate and we were simply wasting one another's time continuing the conversation.

Tip: Take the opportunities you are given to understand how you need to and can improve. Ask trusted colleagues or advisers to give you honest feedback.

Don't immediately assume because your manager is giving you constructive feedback that they aren't on your side. Honest feedback when delivered respectfully is vital when faced with the prospect of losing your job.


Karen Gately is a leadership and people-management specialist and a founder of Ryan Gately. She is the author of ‘The People Manager’s Toolkit’ and ‘The Corporate Dojo’.

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