As a manger and entrepreneur I have hired a fair number of employees in my 30-year business career. Most of the time I got it right, but I also made my share of hiring mistakes and had to fire a few folks. I try very hard to be a fair and understanding boss, but some things cannot be tolerated.
Getting fired is not just for thieves, drunks, and slackers anymore. Honest, hardworking, sober workers are shown the door everyday for transgressions they never imagined would result in their being terminated.
Some reasons for getting fired seem obvious, but it is amazing how often the obvious slips by unnoticed and unacknowledged. You can improve your job security by avoiding the following eight behaviors:
Excessive Web Surfing
American companies lose billions of hours of productivity to employees conducting personal business or fooling around on the internet during work hours. That translates into billions of lost dollars. Your employer is paying you to do a job, not to check on your fantasy football team, play poker, or search for the perfect vacation getaway.
I do not spy on my employee’s internet activities, but many employers do. Assume your company’s IT department is monitoring your computer usage. It goes without saying that adult websites are a definite “no-fly-zone”.
Job Hunting at Work
There is nothing wrong with trying to improve your situation, just don’t do it on my time. This includes sending your resume from your office computer or company owned smart phone. Once again, if you are working for a company with an IT department; assume they are watching. This includes your emails.
Making or Taking Too Many Personal Calls
This one is another time suck that many employers cannot abide. Like surfing the web, employees handling personal business during work hours costs companies untold millions of dollars in lost productivity. I cannot afford to pay you to talk to your friends and family all day long.
Let’s be clear, I am not Ebenezer Scrooge. I understand my employees have personal lives. We all do. It’s typically okay to call your spouse once or twice a day, check in with the kids after school, or make a doctor’s appointment; but keep it quick and get back to work. Better still; make your personal calls while on break.
If you pay attention to the news, you have seen stories about high-level executives busted for embellishing their qualifications. Yahoo CEO Scott Johnson, Notre Dame Head Football Coach George O’Leary, Veritas Software CEO Kenneth Lonchar, and Radio Shack CEO Dave Edmondson all claimed college degrees they did not earn. They all lost their jobs.
Don’t think it only happens to CEOs. Tell the truth about your education and background. Your employer will check and you will be held responsible.
Inappropriate Relationship with the Boss
Some lines should never be crossed and this is one of them. Both of you should know better. A Supervisor/subordinate romance never stays a secret. It causes tension in the office and rarely ends well, and when it does end, someone may lose their job. It probably won’t be the boss.
This one is a personal pet peeve. I once had an employee who was chronically late in the morning; arriving at 8:20 AM instead of 8:00 AM. She was a valued worker and we tried to work with her by changing her hours to 8:30AM until 5:30 PM. Guess what? She started coming in at 8:45AM!
Everyone gets hung up in traffic sometimes, but routinely coming to work or back from lunch late marks you as unreliable and irresponsible. It also annoys your co-workers. You will be the first one out the door if your employer is ever forced to reduce staff.
Not Getting Along with Co-workers
The lone-ranger does not often succeed in today’s business world. Employers value team players who support and cooperate with other employees. The guy with the abrasive personality or “it’s all about me” approach will often find himself replaced by someone who works well with others. It is not hard for me to discern you are the guy everyone dislikes
Not Being Accountable
It’s simple, take ownership of your job and be accountable for your mistakes. If you screw up, notify your superior immediately. She will appreciate your honesty and respect your integrity. Never try to blame someone else for your errors. The truth always comes out and no one wants to employ or work with someone they cannot trust.
As an employer, I want to know you take your responsibilities seriously. I want to have confidence I can trust you and that my commitment to you will be reciprocated and rewarded by your commitment to being a productive employee.