While landing the proverbial ‘dream job‘ is no longer a pipe dream for people, retaining it and prospering in the position is much more troublesome. Every day, nearly 55000 employees are fired or laid off by companies (in the last couple of years) – nearly 31.5% of the total number of workers who leave their jobs daily. American author H. Jackson Brown (Jr.) had once said that nothing is more expensive than a missed opportunity – and recent employment/employee retention trends are certainly suggestive of people giving up on big career opportunities, due to a myriad of causes. The situation is extremely unfortunate – since managing to get established and achieve big things from a good job is far from being rocket-science. We will here take a look at the top 10 causes that are likely to result in the dreaded pink slip soon being handed to workers. You would do well to stay away from these ‘ways to lose a job‘:
(People who WANT to lose a job please look away. THIS IS NOT MEANT TO BE A GUIDE!)
If you think you are indispensable, you are up for a rude jolt
No one and nothing in the world is indispensable. Your boss might like to depend on you for critical task, and be visibly relieved when you take charge of the most important stuff at work. That, however, does not mean that you can take things for granted. Keep in mind that, your office had run smoothly when you had not joined it yet – and even if you leave, finding a capable replacement might not be the toughest ask. Avoid trying to take undue advantage of the favourable positions you might find yourself in, and always make an effort to perform at your very best. There can be the occasional day you feel off-colour, or a day when you just cannot seem to concentrate – but make sure that such instances are very few and very far between. Above all, never ever misuse the responsibilities handed to you by the management. Keep your personal objectives aligned to the organisational goals at all times. The moment pride gets to you and you start to think of yourself as irreplaceable, you start flirting with danger.
Thinking oneself to be ‘indispensable’ typically comes from gradually mounting arrogance and self-importance. More often than not, such workers get stuck in a comfort zone (with zero attempts towards personal/professional growth) – while causing disruptions in the growth and productivity of others too. CEOs who have not fallen into the ‘scarcity thinking trap’ generally try to get rid of such employees (even if they are highly skilled and/or experienced). It’s all for the greater good of the company.
Note: Instead of believing yourself to be indispensable at work, try to prove your worth every single day. That, and that alone, can strengthen your position at your workplace over time.
2. If you tell tall tales, the results can be seriously bad
Dishonesty is something no employer in the world looks down upon kindly. Exaggerating/misrepresenting academic or professional credentials on the resume is an absolute ‘no-no’ (rest assured, recruiters WILL find out!) – while persistent lying after getting the job can land you in big trouble as well. It takes a lot of time to build professional credibility – and if you lie and provide fabricated information to others, it can all come down very quickly indeed. Once you are marked as a ‘dishonest’ person, your career can only head southwards.
Lying at work can happen in different ways. You might have asked for a week’s leave due to an ‘urgent family incident’ – and then posted pictures of a happening family weekend at the beach on Facebook, for the world to see. Or, it may happen that you are not really in the mood to work on a certain day – but you still fill up the timesheet (billable hours) or the team scrum sheet with false information. What’s more, you should also be wary of boasting too much at work. Nobody likes a boastful person who has little time for others – and if your claims are (often!) false, your overall credibility and trust-factor will take a nosedive.
Note: The tendency to tell lies to colleagues/bosses is a chronic issue for many workers. On average, 80% of workplace lies are told by 20% of employees and the remaining 20% lies are uttered by the rest 80% people (i.e., the habit of lying follows Pareto-distribution).
3. Be a gossipmonger at your own peril
Gossips make for great small talk at the office water-cooler or coffee machine. They are also the thing that can emerge as the biggest threat to positivity and teamwork. All the spicy office gossips are started by workers who wish to spread negativity – and if you get sucked into them, your will also be soon viewed as a ‘toxic employee’ too. Always keep in mind that you work in a professional environment – and certain topics from your personal life should always be off-limits at work. In addition, you also need to maintain a cordial, professional relationship with your colleagues and seniors. If you are the type that criticizes the boss the moment (s)he is out of earshot, problems can crop up pretty soon.
In case you have a query or a grievance, it makes a lot more sense to go up to your manager/boss directly and getting things resolved – instead of simply badmouthing him/her to anyone who cares to listen. Spreading false accusations and slander about anyone at office – something that buys a few minutes of cheap publicity but damages the reputation of the person(s) concerned – is also something you should steer clear of. Once a person finds out that you had started that extremely inappropriate gossip about him/her, you will have no place to hide. Stories about the behaviour of seniors and their personal activities can also leak through…and land you in a soup.
Note: If you are switching jobs, be very careful when the prospective new employer asks the reason for which you wish to switch. Answer tactfully, and avoid plainly badmouthing your former employer (even if you HATED that job!). Recruiters, typically, do not want to hire people with pent-up bitterness and aggression in their minds.
4. Your ego, Your problem
Inflated ego is another product of too much self-importance. When you start having a ‘too high’ opinion of yourself, you start losing sight of your team-members – the people with whom you have to work everyday. Everyone, in your opinion, become less qualified and less capable than yourself, your opinions can NEVER BE WRONG – and gradually, you start heading towards an ‘ego death’ (i.e., a total loss of self-identity). Your ego problems build an invisible barrier between yourself and everyone else – and getting into a ‘siege mentality’ (‘me versus the world’) is the most common result. Being a good team-player is important to survive in a professional set up – and a hugely swollen ego prevents you from communicating/collaborating well with others.
In addition to being a mental bottleneck (one that tends to hamper productivity and work relations), ego can lead to voluntary underperformance too. Think of it this way: You are highly qualified in software development – and you are suddenly informed by a junior tester that there is a bug in your latest code. If your mindset is unnecessarily defensive, you will view that information as a personal attack, tell everyone that the other person knows nothing about what you do – and (this is the most serious) wilfully neglect the opinion of that other person. With time and big egos, you might also simply think that you can very well afford to work less and devote more time to show off your importance at office. That results in unnecessarily delays, confusions and bickerings – and if your ego is too big for your own good, you might find yourself terminated soon. Why would any boss provide you a fat pay package AND deal with your ego hassles?
Note: If your performance graph has been heading downwards for several weeks, you might be asked by the management to either pull up your socks, or resign. If your ego does not permit you to pay attention to such warnings – well, the pink slip won’t be far away.
5. Addiction to work is good. Other addictions, not so much!
You had a wild, wild Sunday with old friends – and on Monday, you turn up at work with bloodshot eyes, tottering feet, and clearly, not in your fullest senses. A cup of strong black coffee can get rid of that splitting headache in some time – but that image of a clearly intoxicated person at work will stay in the minds of your employer(s). If this incident repeats itself after every few weeks, your image will forever be tarnished. Suffice to say, if you have a drinking problem – you will soon be unfit to hold on to your day job. Of course, if you arrive at work in an inebriated state, that might very well be your very last day.
If showing frequent effects of heavy drinking at work is bad, being a chain smoker is no less dangerous. Apart from the damages to your lungs, taking multiple ‘smoke breaks’ will surely catch the attention of the HR department, and a stern rebuke should be in the offing. “I need a smoke to clear my head” is among the most lame excuses of all time – and the bad breath you gift to the people next to your cubicle after a fag isn’t pleasant either. Yet another thing you need to watch over is your body language at work. In case you are in the habit of shrugging frequently while talking, rolling in your eyes (an act of contempt) when someone speaks to you, generally avoid making eye contact with others, and/or have a generally lethargic air about you – it’s time to correct yourself soon. There are many ways to identify a slacker, and poor body language is one of the first symptoms of a bad employee.
Note: According to a research, actual words make up only 7% of overall communications. In comparison, body language accounts for a remarkable 55%. That’s precisely why you need to get the latter (along with the former) spot on!
6. Throw a temper tantrum. Get booted out of office
At times, an employee might not be in the right mindset to work properly. A friend or family-member might be seriously ill, a much-loved pet might have passed away, and there may be more serious personal tragedies. Most office heads are compassionate enough at such tough times – and they will, more likely than not, cooperate with the leaves and other help you need. Personal issues, however, do not give you the license to be constantly moody and distracted at office. If you get into a shouting match with a colleague/senior to let off steam from a painful breakup a couple of days ago – you are just prepping yourself for getting fired.
The biggest problem with losing temper while arguing with anyone at office is that, it shows the unpleasant side of you. The fact that you can’t get your point across to the other person(s) without raising your voice is indicative of your not being in control of things. Problems can get further complicated if you get down to name-calling and personal insults – since onlookers would invariably support the other person, who remains calm and rational (even if (s)he is fundamentally wrong). Putting things in a nutshell, unmanaged anger frightens people at work – and if your behaviour intimidates others, you will be inching closer to that exit door, that’s for sure. Maintaining equanimity under all circumstances is vital.
Note: Moodiness leads to excessive procrastination, which affects productivity and leads to tardiness. Be at office only when you feel up for the challenge. Don’t just treat your office as a place where you can sit and sulk. If you show off your temper too much, your boss will end up being very angry!
7. If you do not set the right expectations, people will get the wrong ideas
It’s all very well to take up more and more responsibilities at work – but are you sure you can manage (and manage well!) all of them? Probably not, and that’s precisely where the importance of setting realistic expectations about yourself and your capabilities come into the picture. In a bid to impress the CEOs, employees often make the folly of overstating their abilities, and end up biting off more than they can chew. What needs to be understood is that, a manager is never impressed by what you promise – and it’s only your actual performance levels that can satisfy him/her. If your boss expects big things from you, that is undoubtedly a compliment – but be honest enough if you feel you will not be able to handle a task satisfactorily. Only the people who can truly ‘identify’ themselves, can add value to their companies.
Creating the right expectations about yourself calls for maintaining a fine balance. If you promise too much and then fail to deliver – your boss is entitled to feel disappointed and let down. On the other hand, you might want to ‘stay safe’, and shirk from tasks that seem even slightly tricky – thereby framing a very lowly expectation about yourself in the eyes of your employer. Neither is good for your prospects in the long-run. ‘Under-promising and over-delivery’ is the mantra to build a favourable, reliable image of yourself at work. Do the opposite, and you will fail.
Note: Avoid trying to frantically work overtime to get on the good books of your manager. If you do so, you will be soon reaching a point of ‘work burnout’. Stay relaxed, calm and composed, manage the expectations about yourself wisely – and become a star performer.
8. Socializing at work is a double-edged sword
You keep to yourself at all times at work and hardly talk with your colleagues – and you will be viewed as an arrogant snob. Socialize too much and spend minutes gossipping with others – and your overly chatty nature will earn a warning from the HR department. The trick lies in having cordial, workable relationships with everyone at office – right from the peon and the courier boy, to the admin and the manager(s). If you are of a naturally outgoing nature, curb that instinct of starting a conversation any time you feel like it (the ones around you might be disturbed). Similarly, those having a shy demeanour have to make an extra effort to be friendly with the surrounding people. The wrong level of socialization (either way) sends the wrong communication signals to co-workers and bosses.
When it comes to socializing, things are not limited to how (and how much) you talk with others on the office floor only. You need to be careful while putting up public posts on channels like Facebook and Twitter. Avoid putting up anything that shows your company in a bad light (a long, whiny post on the mounting work pressure, for example). If you HAVE to post or tweet something about your office or your colleagues or your boss, do so in a positive way. Think that your seniors are constantly watching what you share on social media (even though they are not). In addition, avoid posting pictures/content that show you up in a compromising position (say, scenes from that binge drinking session with your pals). You are a part of an organization, and you have to maintain the requisite standards.
Note: Watch the time you spend everyday during the lunch breaks and the tea breaks and (maybe) the smoking breaks. Taking a couple of hours off every day – even as your team-members are slogging hard to make up for your absence – will soon result in you getting a royal scolding from the management (ignore that warning, and you WILL be fired).
9. The Lone Wolf Syndrome does not work
If you feel that you work best when you are alone – here’s some news: you are not fit to work in an office, where cooperation, collaboration and teamwork must take centerstage. There can be the occasional situation when you need to be alone to concentrate on something – but mostly, your performance will directly depend on how well (or otherwise) you go along with your team. In an office, what matters at the end of the day is how you add value to the team – and NOT what you achieve alone. Recruiters look for ‘good team players’ – and if you aren’t one, your chances of staying in a job are slim.
Getting deeper into matters, being a ‘lone wolf’ does not work for any employee. If a newbie feels that (s)he can learn everything on his/her own – even when guidance is available easily – (s)he deliberately delays his/her growth. Seniors might also refuse to help other team-members – citing time problems and other excuses. It all boils down to the unwillingness to be cooperative…to spend time doing something that isn’t necessarily spelt out in the job description. If you think only about yourself at work and fail to play along with your team – you are likely to find yourself isolated soon enough. Don’t help anyone – and others won’t help you either!
Note: You need to be prompt while responding to email communications and other messages. A combination of the ‘lone wolf syndrome’ and a feeling of ‘indispensability’ can also lead an employee to violate the ground rules of the company (dress code, arrival/departure times, etc.).
10. Losing trust is right next to losing your job
Consider this: you spend 3 months working on a particularly intricate project. Your attempts bear fruit, you manage to achieve the desired results – and soon enough, you discover that the entire credit for the work has been usurped by your team leader. How would you feel? Not great, right? Now think if you do the same – claiming someone else’s hard work to be your own, and earning the appreciation that another person deserves. You will lose all trust and respect in your team in particular, and the entire workplace in general. Keep in mind that such actions will not only anger your co-workers. If your boss is observant enough, (s)he will soon find out about your underhand attempts to ‘steal’ other’s work. Once that happens, you will never be relied upon again.
A lot of workers are afraid to own up to mistakes at work, in the fear of getting their seniors angry. Instead, they play the blame game – trying to pass on the responsibility of the mistake to a fellow-employee. Once again, that breaks down the mutual respect and trust, causes heated arguments – and more often than not, managers are experienced enough to find out who is truly responsible for a problem. Contrary to what many think, having the courage to stand up and take responsibility is appreciated by management teams – and that, in turn, builds the reputation and the trust-factor. If you lose them, losing your job will only be a matter of time.
There are many other factors that can serve as one-way tickets to being fired from work. These include being inappropriately dressed at office, openly searching for ‘greener pastures’ on job portals from the office computer, chatting/texting on phone for long periods, and having an unhealthy social media addiction. Irrespective of your post and how long you have been with an organization – you should never misuse the resources (computers, phones, internet, vehicle(s), etc). It’s a question of morality and trust – you break them, and your career gets broken in return.
Bagging a good job is not a ‘done deal’ – and clearing the interview certainly does not give you any special rights. The only way to stay put and prosper in a position is by constantly reminding yourself that you are being assessed all the time – by the managers, the HR, and your team-members. If you make any of the above mistakes and lose your job, you will have no one to blame but yourself. Life does not always offer second chances – and if you spurn an opportunity, you might rue it later.