Anticipating and Avoiding Getting Fired
Bill Cottringer

“If you intend to go to work there is no better place than right where you are; if you do not intend to go to work you cannot get along anywhere. Squirming and crawling about from place to place can do no good.” ~Abraham Lincoln.

No one can afford to get fired from any job in today’s economy and fortunately it doesn’t have to happen. You can anticipate and avoid getting fired from your job because it rarely happens overnight and the writing on the wall is usually there plenty of time in advance. Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t get any job if you don’t have the basic competency in skills and knowledge to do it well. However, most people don’t get fired for incompetency, but rather for their personality and the attitudes that go along with the wrong personality.

Here are some tips that will help you become more sensitive to the point of no return when your employer may be getting ready to make the difficult choice of fishing or cutting bait with you. Becoming aware of these critical “reading signs” will help you anticipate when you may be treading on thin ice; changing these things for the better will definitely help you avoid getting fired.

1. Embrace Change. Resisting any type of change that is already in motion at your workplace, is a fatal mistake that will help you get fired quicker than a hungry mouse getting nailed in a mousetrap. The time to be heard about the rational resistances you have to an unwise planned change is before it is implemented. Then if the change makes it thought the testing period, it is a workplace reality, which no amount of denial or resistance will do away with. So quit fighting it and reinvent yourself and your attitude about the change to go with the natural flow.

2. Reinvent Yourself. Here you have to learn how to let go to your imagination—imagining how you can be better perceived as being an employee every employer wants to hold onto, even during the slow times. You have to visualize how embracing this change in motion will help carry you to a better place regarding your peace of mind and job satisfaction. The main thing to do about any work change is to look for new ways you can add real value with your re-tooled knowledge, skills and abilities in contributing your value to the team effort.

3. Be Efficient and Effective. In today’s” hurry and get results world” of instantaneous demands, you have to work hard, fast and smart to get things done in less time. This is because time is the main currency in today’s workplace, and at home too. Although results are the main measure of success in a job, it is the right efforts that get the right results, which are always the goal. So, as Stephen Covey once said, “just make sure you have your ladder placed against the right wall so you don’t get to the top and realize you are at the wrong building.”

4. Be Accountable. A good friend once advised me “if you don’t make any mistakes, you are probably not making much of anything.” Of course, the object is to not make any fatal mistakes (such as not applying these tips). You can recover gracefully from most mistakes at work if you do a few things like owing responsibility for making the mistake, offering some kind of penitence for your “sins,” doing something to stop the bleeding so to speak, and offering a proposal for a long term assurance that the mistake has been corrected and won’t happen again. That will satisfy most if not all employers.

5. Be Hassle-Free. Employers need solutions not problems. As the old but true saying goes, “if you are not part of the solution, then you are part of the problem.” A fundamental competitive advantage companies have today is being able to offer a product or service that is completely hassle-free—no problems with the price tag. An employer can’t do that with employees who are high maintenance and hassle-riddled. So reinvent yourself as an employee to rid yourself of your hassling characteristics (we all have plenty to choose from).

6. Practice Better Communication. If there is one most important skill we all need to work on it is practicing better communication. Even with very divisive core conflicts in basic values—such as being optimistic vs. pessimistic—there are always good reasons, and that when communicated clearly, make the disagreement more tolerable and less final. But, we rarely have the time and patience to communicate effectively to repair all the miscommunication that we have already wrongly acted on. The main goal in life, and certainly with communication, which Oliver Wendell Holmes was inclined to give his life to achieve, is to nail the simple truth, just on the other side of complexity.

7. Be Positive. This is not easy for anyone living in a predominantly media-spun negative world today. However, there are only two real purposes of negativity:” (a) to show the rest of us how not to be, and (b) to help us see the positive things that need to happen in preparation to be more successful. Learning how to turn the negatives into positives, is the main lesson to learn from failure in order to turn it into a success. And often, the most important failure lesson is in knowing what to quit and what not to quit.

8. Follow-up. Follow-up by supervisors and managers is instrumental to their success; lack of follow-up, which is all too common, is a sure giant step in the direction of failure. Leaders can’t be successful with their own follow-up without employees doing so too. Don’t make promises you can’t keep and keep the ones you do make; and don’t start a worthwhile project you don’t finish, at least not without replacing it with a more worthwhile project.

9. Think Lifestyle. The ideal pie of life today is made up of equal work, play, relationships and rest pieces. Obviously we have let the work segment get way out of balance today and aren’t about to see a reduction of its importance in this pie. But, by incorporating your work into your overall lifestyle of values, this is a good way to keep its dominance from being the tail that wags the dog and get you fired when too much wagging is going on.

10. Follow the Rules. Every workplace has a mission and core values which are needed to be successful. These core values are translated into work rules that are reasonable and necessary, which must be communicated, understood and complied with or failures are the termites that eat away at any organization’s foundation, leading the way to failure. These basic values are most often in the form of all the above fatal mistakes to anticipate and avoid making, before you get fired.

If you want to avoid getting fired by anticipating the likelihood of that happening before it does, consider how you may be already skating on thin ice by not following the above ten tips that come from people who didn’t take the time to do this.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the peaceful but invigorating mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden), and “If Pictures Could Talk,” coming soon. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or