Sometimes it isn’t clear why you got fired or laid off. It may be you, but more often it is a combination of factors at work. In this episode, I’ve shared thoughts about work behaviors that may impact how your organization perceives the value you provide. In some cases, these ideas could actually get you fired. In other cases, applying the concepts may improve your work.
Episode 27 Show Notes
Episode 27 Transcription
This is Rebecca Clark. Episode 27 Fired This’ll Podcast is for anyone that knows they haven’t yet found and offered up their best work but are compelled to seek it out and do it. Are you ready to move your desk? A couple of years ago, I had a very heart to heart conversation with one of my brothers who had just been laid off, and it was right after a hurricane had hit his area and the organization he was with had just hired him and they were directly affected by the hurricane.
And he’s the last one on and the 1st 1 to go. And so to most of us, it was understandable why this could happen. But he had had a couple of layoffs, and he was really being introspective and wondering why this kept happening to him. He had had this very solid work career and then all of a sudden, just for a couple of well, more than a couple of years, 45 years in a row. He just went through this process of thes different companies, and he’d get laid off and every experience seemed different.
But he still wanted to make sure that he was doing the right thing, that he was not doing something that was creating the thought that he should be the first to let go. Now, after that conversation, I thought, What can I offer him? I have not gone through a layoff, ever. I I feel like I have been kind of fired twice. The first time was shame on me because I was finishing up college. I took three history classes that had tons of papers associated with them and, like a six or seven week period and decided it would be a good idea to also be a janitor at 4 a.m.
In the morning. And that would have been fine if it was any other building on campus. But I became a janitor at the bookstore, so you had to be there right at 3:59 a.m. And everybody lined up there like five or six of us, and the boss turned a key on the door. We walked in, he shut and locked the door, and then we would go do our tasks because it was a large bookstore and there was, you know, there were a lot more than books, technology, books, clothing supplies, candy, food, all this stuff.
And you had to be very precise. And that doesn’t work very well if you’re someone that writes most of your papers in the middle of the night and you try to go to sleep for one hour before you go to clean toilets, vacuum floors and scrape wax off of the rock floor, whatever it was on the steps. So we all have to have these jobs. But I was late twice and like, a two week period. And I, you know, I was late at, like, 401 a. M. And he said, You know, if you’re late again, I’m gonna have to fire you.
And I said no, thank you. I’ll just go. The other time was actually not a performance thing either. It was more like I signed up to go to grad school and did not realize that the program I signed up with would be full time, day and evening. And I thought I could balance this with my virtual job at the time. And my boss is like, um you didn’t tell me that you’re gonna sign up for this and I honestly didn’t know what I was signing up for, and that’s a whole nother episode, actually.
But the point being, I have gone through this vicariously more than I’ve gone through it myself. People very close to me have gone through being fired and laid off, and I have also witnessed it in my work environment. Even though I work for the government, it happens in the government and it happens with government contractors. And it’s hard to watch sometimes because there’s so many factors involved that it’s never one thing, and that would be important for you to know if you are someone going through layoffs and firings, it’s never just one thing, and yes, it may be you on something, but more often it’s a combination of factors, and this is not going to be an all inclusive list.
But I did want to share some thoughts that I shared with him, and I will be expanding upon these. I keep adding to the list, but I’m not gonna share the whole list here. I’m just gonna share those things that I shared with him that came to my mind at that time, based upon my experiences I’d love if you would share pushback on these. So number one is don’t be a yes man. Demonstrate that you want to be supportive but also pushed back. If you think the boss is taking the wrong direction and it’s all in the way it’s done, perhaps you say I know you want me to pursue this option.
If I could just take a few minutes to share that I haven’t thought about this and have realized that there are a few other pieces of information that you may not have have that might change your option. I know that, You know, hear these 12 and three considerations. You know, based upon this information, would you still want me to pursue the initial approach? And if you have a good boss or whomever it is you’re presenting this to, they will consider it and then listen for the answer. And hopefully they would acknowledge that this is something they’d want their employees to d’oh!
And from your end, understanding that if they take your feedback, that’s great. But if they don’t just say thank you and just reiterated that you just wanted to share it, But you’re going to keep moving forward because I think sometimes when we do this we can dwell on how the boss didn’t follow it. We can dwell on over analyzing what went wrong and what you said or presented. Maybe there’s nothing. Maybe maybe the boss or the person making the decisions knows more than you do about what’s going on, and they can’t make the best choice or they can’t move forward with the best choice.
But I’d also say, you know, from your end to make sure that you keep moving forward, don’t dwell on it and put these decisions and writing. You don’t want someone coming back later and saying that you didn’t tell them, and it also helps you remember what you agreed to a second area analysis paralysis, and I kind of talked to that a second ago. Unless Six Sigma is expected, which would primarily be in manufacturing types of environment don’t go for this perfection. That six Sigma requires this exactness Dover the best possible option within the time frame and the constraints provided for your work.
And so I know I always, um, quick to provide rough drafts so I can get it out there for people to review, and I tell them it’s rough and some of them think it’s too rough, but it gives a chance to get their inputs. And I’ve mentioned this in podcast before that people don’t know what to do with a blank piece of paper. But when there’s something on it, they’re very good at ripping it apart. And you want that you want to get comfortable with imperfection and that people realize that you’re comfortable with it, but that you also deliver a really good product at the end.
And this is an important work attributes because in the world today we need to ship where if we wait for perfection, it may be too late for the need at hand. And if we get better and better at getting drafts out there getting feedback and moving on with that, we actually do speed up a timeline quicker than we think and related to the yes man thought don’t over analyse everything over. Analyzing doesn’t make the company money most of time unless the main product requires it. This can lead to some incapacitating thoughts that we have to be perfect and and then you can start to miss deadlines.
You can start to see all kinds of things happen if this time is spent on too much research, too much thinking about perfection. And so I’d recommend, you know, stay out of that analysis paralysis zone and start making sure you get comfortable with drafts of things. So they provides a mechanism to seek specific feedback for specific areas of a task or presentation or project. 1/3 idea is to always act like you’re a consultant within your organization. When you’re asked to do something, don’t expect the boss to give all the details.
Turn around to create a list of what you think needs to be done, create a schedule, set up a meeting to discuss it and bring an agenda and request in Foote’s for certain areas of uncertainty and then get approval to work to that schedule or get it modified. This is another example of when you’re acting like a consultant. You know you’ve got a draft something, you go back and think about it and then come back and ask the boss to fill in the gaps or refine or explain.
And that shows the boss Hey, they’ve thought this through and they’re coming to me after they’ve taken some time to think, because if each time, if you come back to whomever it, whether it’s a boss, I keep saying the boss. But whoever it is that you are interacting with it is expecting you to accomplish something. It’s important to demonstrate, especially at the higher salary levels, that you have gone back taken time to think about it. And you are coming back on Lee to get clarification on approval on way forward.
After a while, if you are in their office all the time defaulting to getting the way forward, you have to ask yourself, what extra value are you adding If you are an order taker and if you’re if you are an order taker? Okay, fine. Maybe that is your job. But if you’re not which most people are not nowadays, even order takers shouldn’t just be order takers, right? You have to be constantly thinking about the best way to do something, what additional value to offer the task that you are doing.
And so take that moment. It might be stressful at first, but to say, Hey, how would I do this? If I were doing this at home, how would I take on this task I’ve been given or this project? What would be the first things I would D’Oh. Number four focus during the work day. I know that I have always had jobs, that there’s just a never ending list of projects and tasks. And so it was very easy for me if I couldn’t focus on one test to switch to a different ones.
I’m always getting stuff done, and hopefully along the way, I finish those things. But if you haven’t met all of your deadlines, it’s probably not good to be taking lunches out, talking a lot with piers, surfing the Web or on the phone with family or friends. If you have not met all your deadlines, start using the work day and normal hours to do the work. And this is especially important in line of sight environments. You know where you know I see you sitting there at your desk and therefore you must be working and I don’t see you.
And therefore I don’t trust what you’re doing, so you definitely want to be on task in those environments. But if that if you aren’t somewhere where people can see what you’re doing, But they are highly concerned about what you’re doing. Make sure you take that opportunity to provide extra communications to say, Hey, I’m going to be in the office these hours. Oh, I’m going to be over in this building for this meeting. Oh, I am going to be available through text message or whatever. So they know that you are contributing, and most will assume that you aren’t contributing enough.
If you aren’t open and clear about it, there’s so many places for the brain to wander. Now, as I say, this part of me thinks this is crazy, because if you are someone who has critical thinking, skills and all that, who cares where you are and what you’re doing? As long as you are performing to expectations and you are continuing to add value beyond those expectations that I can tell you some of these environments, it’s very important to be seen. And then you have people unnecessarily judging the activities that you are doing.
So get off the phone with your family, get off the techs, get off all that work while you’re at work. as much as possible, and then you won’t need to take it home, either. And I’m saying this is someone who took home work every day. But I’m also someone who probably took about two days a month to go out to lunch or to even take a lunch break, which may or may not be a problem. But I would rather be in the office fewer hours and getting a lot done than spreading that all out.
And, you know, if you’re a trusted person and doing what you need to do, then maybe some of these things don’t matter. But the minute whoever is responsible for your work sees that you have time for all of that. But you don’t have time to meet your deadlines. That’s not gonna put you in a good place. Number five. Don’t expect more salary just because you think you need more money, and that flies in the face of some of the coaching actually be doing, you know, to move up and move your desk right.
But just because you have debt or just because you have a new car, that does not mean the organization’s gonna pay you more. They have a certain expectation of what can be accomplished for certain salaries. They need that for their bottom line. They need this to keep the organization going right. They need you to pull your weight. So when you expect more salary just because or because you found out someone makes more than you or that kind of thing, you can end up spending a lot of time gathering competitive intelligence about other people’s salaries, what other people are and are not doing how many bills you have to pay.
And that time could have been spent turning in your deliver bols on time. That time could have been spent learning about Wait a second. Let me just do a very focused little search to make sure I am being paid within the guidelines of the organization or to industry standards. And if you want more, do your job really well and offer to doom or or add a new value in a particular way. Try to add as much valuables possible prior to asking, and if you don’t have the job yet, they’re still negotiating.
You can offer to take on more responsibilities or tasks if that would help increase the salary. But I see this a lot. People wanting to get paid more and they aren’t coming to the table wanting toe offer more. They just want to be paid more, saying I’m worth more because other people have been paid this or I really need to earn more because I’ve got this bill to pay. No, that that’s not the organization’s problem. They didn’t create that bill in your life, and they honestly do have a pre defined set of criteria.
Most of the time, I remember back when Eisen recruiting for a corporation, you know, there was a little chart we used, actually, the years of experience, years of experience in a specific field, the worst or the value of that position to the organization and the critical need for the position in the organization at that particular time. And there’s also a volatile market factors that can play into this some years. You may not value a skill as much as you will five years down the road or that you did five years before, and this is also a point that if you’re constantly worried about salary, it’s time to stop and and think about all of the other parts involved in a job salaries, just one of them, and we make it super important.
But there’s actually a lot of different factors that contribute to you being able to offer and perform your best for an organization. And we’ll talk about negotiation in a different episode. But try to add as much values possible prior to asking for this salary increase or expecting or complaining about it, because in the act of doing that, you naturally become a better employee. You get your focus right, What am I offering this organization? And if you’re tired of fitting into these charts that the recruiters have or the hiring panels have, then it’s time to think about taking your skill set and applying it in a different way, perhaps somewhere else in a way that’s not constrained by that.
And that may mean a form of entrepreneurship. Okay, Number six add value to where you were hired to add value first, so special projects come second or third or may not even be important. Sometimes in our quest to pursue what we love, we forget the bread and butter of our job, and so I have seen this a lot where people will be way behind on the important day to day work and tinkering around with things that I think are cool or that they think the organization needs to move forward.
Which is great because you always need that forward leaning approach and you want to be anxiously engaged in something you’re interested in. But what’s even better is if you become efficient and effective in your expected job and get really good at communicating with others and choosing the right communication formats and get that job done right, people will be willing to listen to you more fully. If you’re doing that right, then you can offer up for this special projects as part of the time that you have available after that, and once in a while, you do have to get off the day to day and roll your sleeves up for a special project.
I’m talking about if that’s what you seek to do in a job, and forget that you were hired to add value in a certain place first, and this is a tough balance because every organization is hearing that they need to disrupt themselves and innovate and must do this to remain competitive in the market place. And to do that, you’ve gotta have people that are tinkering and exploring new things. But if it’s a TTE the expense of the day to day, then we have a problem. If you are off tinkering and the people that need day to day small minutia answered, aren’t getting answered, then they might not be able to do their jobs well.
And the whole organization starts falling behind. If everyone isn’t on the same page that first things first, let’s get this done. But let’s keep our eye forward on how we change in how we improve. Okay, Number seven know when it’s time to take vacation and when it’s time to get to work and on the government. We have a lot of vacation time, and the the contractors and government don’t have as much. And so often the contractors will be working through holidays and through different periods of time that are really important for the business to keep running and government people are missing in action.
And so pay attention to this. Are you someone that consistently is out of the office when something big is due when something highly valuable to organization needs to be delivered and who is picking up that slack for you. Because over time people will notice who was there during the tough times and who is not. And they will take note of that, and especially if you’re an environment that’s fast paced and has rapid deliver bols due to different clients. This this is super important. And I know I even had a friend who had to go to a lot of court appearances during some important things, and that was pretty much out of their control.
But he got laid off that laid off a couple times because of that, because he just had to keep taking these days off. And it was too important to the team to have people there every day to get to these really tight deadlines. So it didn’t even matter how they performed on their there. They weren’t there enough toe help the team. And if you have that kind of situation in life yet, you have to understand that hopefully this is temporary and this has impacted your work temporarily.
But it shouldn’t the rest of your life. And so You know, understandably, life has different challenges at different times, but that point, that’s a good time to look and see. OK, maybe I do need to be in a different kind of work. Maybe a work that’s a little more flexible might have a lower salary. It might just be task oriented, but it can get me through this period of time where I know I’m going to have a lot of interruptions. So number eight Sometimes it isn’t you, and I have seen us a lot.
And that’s why I think it’s important, especially on the end of those that are in charge of hiring and firing, to be aware of this when they make decisions that you spend a lot of time pulling the emotion out of it, and some of the different choices that went on along the way, that would make you want to get rid of someone quickly, perhaps like or some people don’t get rid of people quickly. But when you are getting laid off or fired, sometimes it may be less about you and Maura about someone else.
I know I was talking to someone who said they were laid off and It was really interesting because the person they reported to when they got hired acted like my friend was a good old boy, and my friend wasn’t a good old boy. And so that boss quickly started to recognize that this new employee wasn’t going to be hanging out and talking and doing some of the things that he was doing with his good old boys and started to act out in certain ways. And that friend of mine brought forward their ideas in their work.
And it became very clear very quickly to my friend that Wow, there’s something about me that is threatening this person. I they know I’m not gonna fall into certain decision traps. I’m not going to make a poor choice or a dishonest choice in this area. This is probably not gonna end well, because at the end of the day, my friend ended up being a hindrance to some of the agendas that that boss had and of course, he was laid off at a certain point or fired. I don’t remember which, but there is a lot of self protection going on in work environments today.
Maybe this has always been but when economies start to have issues or the new starts to start saying that there’s gonna be job issues or someone I know in government. The big thing is, you know, people feel like they got into the government and they want to keep that stable job at all costs, some of them at all costs. And so when you think that way, you can start to make choices that could become self protective. They’re not good for the organization. They’re not good for teams.
They’re not good for you. But people will start to watch others and try to catch them on little mistakes and worry about different things to protect information, to make sure they can keep their job. Which is ironic because acting that way actually puts you in a very bad position for yourself because your growth kind of halts you because you’re not trusting others. You actually start going down the path of not being trustworthy yourself, and you become the bottleneck, perhaps, or you become the person people have to work around when you act like that.
And so some of these people are people that are making the hiring and firing decisions that have these insecurities or self protecting, and sometimes you are the temporary victim of that. I say temporary victim because at the end of the day, that’s a good thing, that you get a chance to get away from this type of person because you will not grow in that environment. US. Well, you will have to work really hard to grow in the environment. I know when I’ve been in those situations I’ve had to steadily tell myself I am learning everything not to do.
I don’t want to act that way. Want to openly share what I’m doing? I want to be generous. I want to be a team player. I want to offer up more than is expected if I can. If I’m overwhelmed with a lot of dizziness and projects that may be the best I can do is treat people well and deliver as much as I can that I promised. But that can be an ever losing battle. If people are protecting themselves and it’s really interesting, I think I’ve had to take on another perspective with this, a times that I am very grateful that some of these people are still employed because Maybe they have to protect themselves because they realize they don’t have a lot of other options.
Maybe they don’t have a lot of skills or talents to share. And you do you have many options. You have many places you could work. You could create your own work, and maybe they can’t see that in themselves and that to protect themselves at all costs. And so, thank goodness there’s something that puts food on their table. But that’s all it will do. It won’t do much more because it always comes back. Okay, karma always comes back. So nine share information. Always. I kind of hit up on this a minute ago.
But even if people don’t give you credit, which for shame, you know we should always remember or try to remember who helped us along the way and provide credit for what information’s been shared. But even if people lie and say it came from them, even if it temporarily gets them ahead, I have found that the more I share, the more people come to me with information and sometimes even say they heard something that sounded like it came from me and people start to discern the people that really know and share and those that hold close information or share without acknowledgment.
And so it’s important to keep a good attitude about this. You never know who will attract or what kind of opportunity it’ll bring up. And so I say, share what you know always, always be in that giving mode, and it is kind of counterintuitive. But we have learned this over and over the last few years with Internet access that the more people share information and give insights and give their lessons learned. The more people want to know from them, the more they asked them to share, the more they can offer.
And so it It’s kind of counterintuitive to some, but that’s how it works. And if you try to hold what you know so close hold. People are going to find a way to find the information anyway, so why not be the person that shares it and be a trusted resource for them to go to 10 have courage to stand up for yourself and others and do it kindly and firmly and do it without fear of losing your job? You know, the right people will respect it and the wrong people will continue to try to protect themselves.
So I know so many times I’ve gone into my boss or to other people in positions of power and have had to be very straightforward with them. And sometimes I even say in the conversation, I know you could fire me, but I feel like this is important to share. And so I I’m very up front with this, especially if it requires a lot of courage for me to stand up for something. So I let them know that they are fully capable of firing me for what I have to share.
But I must share it because it will help the organization. It will help the people in the organization, and I have had to do this multiple times at my job, especially especially when I found out that different team members or different leaders were afraid to bring up something. They were fearful of, what it would do to their position or that they would be disregarded or punished in a certain way. And the minute I realized that, I’d say, OK, I’ve got a step forward, It’s my job to step forward.
I’m not gonna be afraid of losing my job. I have a brain that I’ve used. I have experience if they decide to get rid of me because I’m speaking a truth about this that will help the organization and the people in it. Then there will be something else for me somewhere else. You know how I know that? Because I’m closer to 50 years old. Then I am to 40 and I’m still here. And I’ve worked in many organizations, and there’s always been something next. There’s always been something else.
So have the courage to stand up for yourself and others. And it very well means that you could lose your job when you do that. And that’s okay, because you’ve demonstrated that you can stand up for yourself and others, and that will serve you well wherever you go. Or at least in an environment that’s worth working in 11. No one knows as much as they claim. If they’re really vocal, at least about their experience, and if they know a lot, they typically aren’t the most amazing of team members.
Okay, that sounds bad, doesn’t it? It’s so, but I think we’ve all experienced that if you come in acting like you are the expert, no one has your experience and all that. Well, the team that you’re going to be working with, no matter what level they’re gonna start out with some thoughts about you that may be very difficult for them to overcome. People just want to be treated well, and they want to work with helpful people and with people that are continually learning. We never get the best performance necessarily from the smartest person.
We get it from the person that knows how to find a way to do it and execute it with input from others. And they’re able to pull others in because they’re good at working with people. And so these are things to think about when you get laid off. Have you acted in the environment in any of these ways? Have you thought in any of these ways? And if you haven’t, maybe some of these bullet points relate to you where you could tell that there were honestly sin, different things going on in that organization that you had no control over.
But at least he gave you a chance to learn that It’s riel. This really happens and organizations that happens with any place that has more than one person working. It’s that inner personal thing. Now, a final note to this. There’s so many more areas that could be discussed. These were just what I had put in my initial response to my brother, but I wanted to add some people are laid off far too quickly, and it’s because they were in the wrong job. But they might be very talented, very good at working with people.
And maybe they were just in the wrong seat on the bus. And that’s in good to great. By Jim Collins. If you haven’t read that, that’s been around a while. But, you know, making sure when we hire and fire were thinking about. Okay, we’ve got this bus. I’ve got to get people on the bus when I get them on the bus. Are they in the right seat to perform to the best of their abilities? And I can tell you how amazing it is when you see someone that is under performing and the person making a decision thinks through the value that person can offer, and if they put them in a different role, or the person explains to them that they have other things they can offer, and they get that chance to perform in a different role, how it can completely change everything, because all of a sudden this person you thought was lazy are not producing or they just didn’t get instructions are in a different capacity and they’re thriving.
You realize why I’m so glad we kept them. We just had them in the wrong seat on the bus, and we weren’t open enough to see it. Or maybe the person wasn’t signaling it. They were just showing up every day and trying to get through it. But it’s worth taking a time. If you have control over this, too, stop and consider. Did we have them in the right role? Do we have a space for them in a different role, or can we create a space? If this is good people, If not okay, it might be time to let them go, but to do it from a place where you’ve momentarily taken, look at the total organization, is there need elsewhere and taking a moment to take some emotion out of it.
Now, if you’ve been getting a lot of feedback about this employee and seen that they aren’t delivering, okay, it might still be worth seeing if they’re in the right role or not, if not time to go. And sometimes that can be the best thing in the world for someone to be let go. Because as my brother and I talked, you know, realizing it forces an introspective period of time, it can force anger, too. But this is a choice. You can choose to stop and think, What can I change?
What can I improve to make myself more valuable? Like I said, this is not an all inclusive list. This is just some thoughts from what I’ve seen from being on both sides of the equation, being an employee, being a boss and also vicarious experience. What I ended my communication with him with was you have a lot to offer the world. If a kn organization doesn’t want you, who cares? They aren’t a fit. Start thinking about where you fit and imagine it, and somehow it’ll start to materialize.
I’m learning this right now, and so this is important to remember. This is just another step on your journey. All of the experiences you have count if you make it count. And maybe this is just what you needed to step into a role or an organization that is best for you. Have a great day. Let me know your thoughts. Thank you again for listening to the move your desk show. Take a minute and go to move your desk dot com and sign up for the weekly email.
And remember, it’s not spam, but it may show up in that part of your inbox. Talk to you next Monday.