Why do people get fired?
Yesterday I saw this guy get fired. I didn’t see it happen. He came by our desks on the row and told us before he walked out. I did something I’ve never done: I asked him why. He said that he didn’t make his number of calls and that he left early one day.
After he left my mind started doing what it always does when someone gets fired (I’ve been in corporate America for 20 years). I started siding with management in my mind. His weaknesses were obvious, I thought, this is why he and I are different, ect.
It was total bullshit. I began to reflect, did I really do that in my mind every time someone got fired for the past 20 years? The answer was yes. It made me wonder about my perspective. Then I decided to flip it. Here’s what I mean. I reasoned that since I was so good at assuming, let’s assume that every time someone got fired that it was for personal reasons. Then I asked myself: Have you ever seen someone fired for legitimate reasons?
I like to use the reasoning method (above) to shake up how I think sometimes. I decided that every time I’d seen someone fired, it was personal. Yes, every single time. I’ll take it one step further, I’ve never seen someone fired because they were incompetent.
I’ve seen, in corporate America, someone moved because they were incompetent; usually they were given more responsibility (less work), less stress, and more pay. I asked my buddy about it and he’s goes “you’re wrong. I knew someone who got fired for….” And then he trailed off. He goes: “you know what…that guy got fired for doing something illegal. He was stealing from a client.”
So my buddy proved my point. The person wasn’t fired for being incompetent. They were fired for doing something illegal and, more importantly, something that could cost the company money. Most companies will not allow theft of any kind.
Back to my point: people get fired for personal reasons. Usually they get fired because they have some fundamental disagreement about how a place is run and they’re vocal about it. Then they decide to hold a “one man” or “one woman” demonstration by compromising the core requirements of a position so they can “send a message.”
That’s when “management” decides to send a message of their own. It works on employees because they do what I do. They legitimize the reasons that management made their decision without knowing anything about it. It scares us too. We sit at our desks and everybody figures they need to keep their head down. It really works.
Another pattern I’ve noticed is that after this mysterious firing, some additional work is rolled out to the group without any pay increase. I’ve seen that a lot. Man oh man. You talk about living by the sword. I guess these people in management think they can run departments this way without any kind of personal “blow-back.”But back to my point, sorry I keep getting lost here…the real reason “management” is firing someone who goes against the grain is they take it personally, they refuse to acknowledge the person’s voice, and then they react. Is it that they’re bad people? That isn’t for me to judge. I will say that on my scorecard in leadership, I give them a D for deficiency. Actually, I give them an F.